The Future of IoT Military Applications

Key Takeaways

  • The various types of medical IoT designs 

  • A discussion of IoT design trends 

  • Important considerations in manufacturing medical IoT devices

Medical IoT device wearable on a wrist

Medical IoT devices include wearables and implants that are useful for everything from fitness tracking to vital life-saving capabilities

If your smart watch or laptop malfunctions, it may cause temporary distress or inconvenience. However, if medical technology malfunctions, the damage can be devastating. Failure rates and errors in medical devices are downright dangerous, and for this reason, designing for Medical Internet of Things (IoT) presents a challenge in complexity and requires additional attention to detail. Medical technology components will likely need smaller tolerances, and devices must be designed for heavy wear and a variety of environmental factors. In order to handle the ever-changing and high-standards of the medical industry, it is important to have a strong foundation in medical IoT PCB design. 

Medical IoT Design Types 

In creating a medical IoT PCB design, there are a variety of devices that each serve their own purpose–and more types are constantly being innovated. From a development standpoint, the most common types of medical IoT devices are implants and wearables. 

  • Implanted sensing and monitoring devices require the most care, as they are placed inside  a human body. It is essential to use biocompatible materials (or even biodegradable, if relevant) and encapsulation techniques. Furthermore, when placed inside the human body, communication elements may be attenuated (when compared to being tested in free-space), and this must be accounted for. Finally, designers should make sure to perform careful calculations for a device's power longevity and battery protection. In the case of battery failure, the device may need to be extracted using surgery. An alternative to using a battery is through wireless power transfer (WPT).

  • Wearables, on the other hand, may face non-constant environmental conditions: changing moisture levels, variable impacts, and fluctuating temperatures. That being said, wearables have the benefit of being able to be charged and easily removed from the body for maintenance in the case of malfunction. 

From a functional standpoint, implants and wearables can be broken down to how critical their operation is. 

  • Devices vital for tracking and management, such as pacemakers and ventilators, are responsible for transmitting important data and keeping track of the individual's health.

  • Non-vital life management devices have a high window-of-time for failure. This includes devices such as glucose or blood pressure monitors. 

  • Fitness trackers keep track of data such as calories, steps, and diet, and are not as critical to keeping the individual alive. 

Medicine and technology graphic representing new IoT devices

New medical IoT devices are constantly being innovated to offer more capabilities in a more compact form

Medical IoT PCB Design Elements

The medical industry is a dynamic field that is constantly iterating on itself. Devices are becoming more interconnected and are increasingly capable of transferring recorded data to other devices and the internet.

Here are a couple design elements that are being implemented in modern medical IoT PCB designs:

  1. Boards are becoming more compact with higher functionalities. To keep up with the communication of data within a device, high-density interconnects (HDIs) are commonly used.

  2. In general, there is a trend for smaller and more compact boards. Utilizing even smaller components in tighter spaces requires more accurate manufacturing.

  3. Medical devices are being placed in more innovative locations, and for this reason they are being designed to be easily accessible. That is, boards in a variety of form factors, including smart watches, intelligently designed implants, and other form factors necessary for monitoring vitals.

  4. Flexible electronics are now being used more in the medical field, including fully flexible and rigid-flex boards.

Manufacturing Tips for Medical IoT PCB Designs

Once you’ve developed your design, created a schematic, and chosen the required components, connectivity-abilities, and functionality of your medical IoT device, designing the PCB for manufacturing is the next step. Tips to ease the manufacturing process for your medical IoT PCB design include:

  • Working closely with your manufacturer as early as you can in the development process to understand their limitations, abilities, requirements, and precision-capabilities.

  • Keeping your design for manufacturing (DFM) and design-for-assembly (DFA) rules in mind. This will help in the long term to create higher yields and get manufacturing right the first time.

  • Using highly-capable software to simulate your designs before manufacturing. Especially for complex designs, being able to perform integration checks, testing, and monitoring through a simulation is essential to identifying errors before manufacturing.

Although there is a lot that goes into medical IoT PCB design, the payoffs of a smart, successful design can literally save lives. With such high stakes, using an advanced software will help with these mission-critical designs. Leading electronics providers rely on Cadence products to optimize power, space, and energy needs for a wide variety of market applications. To learn more about our innovative solutions, talk to our team of experts or subscribe to our YouTube channel.

About the Author

Cadence PCB solutions is a complete front to back design tool to enable fast and efficient product creation. Cadence enables users accurately shorten design cycles to hand off to manufacturing through modern, IPC-2581 industry standard.

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