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Get Ready For The Big Surge in Wearable PCBs

With all the attention to health and fitness, a lot of people think the wearables market has hit a plateau. Actually, the wearable devices market today is only the tip of the iceberg.

The fact is numbers of OEMs producing traditional electronics systems have a close eye on creating their own versions to further turbo-charge the wearable market.

Medical electronics and its many wearable applications are at the top of the list. Medical electronics OEMs are now moving rapidly in the wearables front.

But What’s AR?

For those of you who haven’t heard of it yet, there’s a new buzzword relating to Wearable devices. They call it “augmented reality or AR.” WhatIs.com defines it as: . . . the integration of digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Unlike virtual reality, which creates a totally artificial environment, AR uses the existing environment and overlays new information on top of it.”

What’s AR got to do with wearables? Plenty according to a recent report from Beecham Research. According to this research house, AR and wearable devices have created a lot of interest in consumer technology. But the report adds enterprise applications will be the major growth driver in these segments.

It emphasizes that manufacturing, logistics, healthcare, and retail have been identified as some of the most dynamic markets where AR offers novel, hands-free interaction along with more control and access to information.

Yet with all this hoopla in the background, there are some basics OEMs need to know about.

Fig 1-WearablePCB-Penny SizeToday, the average wearable PCB is about the size of a penny, Fig. 1. Therefore, it’s important for OEM designers to keep in mind that wearable devices pose new design and manufacturing challenges unlike those associated with conventional sub-system printed circuit board or PCB design and manufacturing.

There are newer and different challenges, plus a number of assembly and manufacturing processes continue to be defined for wearable PCBs. Tapping into veteran EMS Providers, like NexLogic Technologies, with considerable experience in designing and manufacturing smaller PCBs, is especially important to get your wearable project successfully off the ground.

Get a good handle on these challenges by checking out our article in Modern Printed Circuits Magazine.

Meanwhile, here are some tips and hints to get you well on the way to your successful wearable PCB project.

  • Component selection is particularly important given the fact a wearable PCB is remarkably small and every little bit of space is critical.
  • Know exactly which component is required for each part of your wearable system.
  • Understand that scaled-down components introduce a host of details requiring innovative refinements.
  • Be aware that you need to be prepared to deal with an entirely new level of requirements when entering into wearable PCB technologies.
  • Get with your EMS provider to get on the same page with assembly inspection to increase your changes of a successful wearable PCB assembly and manufacturing.
  • Opt for an EMS provider that already has wearable PCB R&D and experience with other wearable PCB customers to reap the benefits of previous customer work.

Like we said earlier, the wearable devices market is just beginning. It has the greatest potential of spawning a great number of different applications in practically every walk of life. If you’re looking to enter this burgeoning market, it is wise to start a dialogue with us at NexLogic and get a solid foundation in both wearable PCB design and manufacturing.