In a change of pace from the normal SoC related MediaTek news, today we see the announcement of a new discrete biosensor from the Taiwanese chip manufacturer. The new Sensio MT6381 is a health monitoring solution which integrates six key measurements data points into an all-in-one package which can be integrated into smartphones.

While the Helio series includes the popular SoC lineup of MediaTek, the Sensio branding is a new marketing effort by the company to give more exposure to its new and future sensor business, of which the new biosensor is the first announced product.

The industry leader in biosensor solutions is currently Maxim Integrated who also are the component suppliers of the heart-rate monitor module integrated into Samsung Galaxy smartphones, undoubtedly the smartphone line-up which popularized and became the trend-setters in regards to integrating health monitoring solutions into mobile phones.

While the wearable market has seen more widespread adoption of biosensor integration, outside of Samsung Galaxy phones there’s been sparse to close to no adoption of such solutions (Please correct me if a device comes to mind!), which considering that Samsung first introduced the sensor in the Galaxy S5 close to 4 years ago is quite a bit odd.

As such, MediaTek sees opportunity and demand from its OEM partners to enter this market. The MT6381 doesn’t just try to be a follower in terms of functionality but tries to one-up rival component offering by claiming to be the first 6-in-1 biosensor solution. The six data points that the sensor package is able to collect are as follows:

  • Heart-rate – heart beats per minute
  • Heart-rate variability – variation in time between heartbeats
  • Blood pressure trends – measured range of data over time
  • Peripheral oxygen saturation (SpO2) – measurement of blood oxygen levels
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) – electrical activity of the heart over a period of time
  • Photoplethysmography (PPG) – measurement of blood volume changes

The first four features can be found in today’s Galaxy phones and existing biosensor solutions but it’s the integration of ECG and PPG that stands out as additional features exclusive to MediaTek’s new offerings. The sensor is actually a discrete pre-assembled integrated package consisting of package housing, substrate, the actual front-end IC and sensor assembly, protected by a glass cover. Red and infra-red LEDs serve as the illumination sources for the light sensitive sensors which measure the light absorption by a user’s fingertips and with help of some processing convert that input data into heart-rate and blood pressure and oxygen measurements.

The ECG and PPG functions which we haven’t seen so far seen integrated into smartphones are also handled by the package with help of two additional simple electrodes that the OEM has to implement into a device’s housing. When the user then touches both electrodes with a finger on each hand this creates a closed loop between the device and the heart to enable ECG measurements.

The MT6381 is marketed as a complete solution and with that also comes the software support. As such MediaTek offers all related software as well as an in-house and 3rd party application for health monitoring, which should ease adoption for low-cost OEMs.

All in all while maybe not as exciting as a new SoC, MediaTek’s new biosensor does open up the possibility of wider market adoption of integrated health sensors into smartphones. MediaTek also explains that the target application device for the MT6381 is indeed smartphones as opposed to wearables, a decision linked to simple market opportunity and demand for a integrated solution in this segment. The new Sensio sensor will be made available to MediaTek partners in early 2018.

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  • Xajel - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Cool, we need a bracelet/belt that integrate this and using ANT+ & Bluetooth 4.0/5.0 LE it can connect to smartphones and exercise computers ( bikes, gym equipments, etc. )
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    You can infer a lot about what a person is thinking or doing based on their biometric readings. Combined with location data reporting and a window into their personality/thinking based on web surfing, the apps they use, and the texts and calls they make and you can probably predict how they're going to act or react to a given stressful situation. Systems like these could use a person's phone and existing network to call for medical assistance or alert police if a threshold of activities indicates a crime is probably being carried out by the person using it. The phone could be programmed to activate the mic and camera for evidence collection and we could catch a lot more people doing bad stuff as it happens. I mean, we might even be able to detect illegal drug use and help stop addictions and related crimes. Society could really benefit from this kind of thing.
  • 29a - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    I hope you're not being serious.
  • JoeyJoJo123 - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Pretty sure PeachNCream is just memeing. The only insane poster that actually believes what they say on Anandtech comments is ddriver.
  • PeachNCream - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    My post was meant at as a sort of darkly humorous warning about the dangers of combining all that collected data from devices we take for granted and carry with us every day no matter where we go and what we do. I'm not at all advocating that we build a dystopian future where our phones monitor us for signs of discontent or criminal potential and proactively report us. I think we should all be a tiny bit distrustful of the smartphone fruit we've been offered and the "free" services available on them. Sometimes the best way to bring attention to that idea is to poke a little fun at what's possible. Then again, what can one Peach, no matter how creamy, do from a comfy armchair aside from happily poke away at the screen of a smartphone like everyone else?
  • asmian - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    " I think we should all be a tiny bit distrustful of the smartphone fruit we've been offered and the "free" services available on them."

    Why only a *tiny* bit? Did Snowden teach people nothing? I'm yet to be convinced of the need for a "smart" phone, and I'm waiting for a brand I can trust that won't track me geographically in real time, report everything I view to a conglomerate that will sell my interests to advertisers (or to others with shadier aims), nor be a closed code platform that I cannot trust is not being hijacked (including features like cameras) to spy on me and everyone in range. If a phone doesn't offer those features, I cannot care how fast "Geekbench" says it is. My old Nokia is doing just fine, thanks. ;) An umbilical cord to Twitter and Facebook is *not* a requirement of modern life.

    It's not tin-foil hattery to see exactly the potential being described here as the logical outcome, with alphabetic agencies rubbing their hands already at the possibilities of exploiting any such technology for covert surveillance by subverting devices, as they've been shown to have done already. Thanks, Peach, for pointing it out.
  • negusp - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Careful there- you're basically describing the complete relinquishment of any sort of privacy. Complete and open biometric/tracking/data collection is very easy to abuse.

    Though I do tend to agree that the society you describe will inevitably be the future as privacy rights continue to be eroded. Such a society may not even be a bad thing, but for the time being what you describe is very dangerous.
  • deepblue08 - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Tom Cruise would disagree
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Turn that around to "help people in need or who are being victims to a crime" to raise the acceptance of your suggestion.
  • asmian - Thursday, December 14, 2017 - link

    Of course that'll be the authoritarian spin when it's in the next bill Trump and the Republicans force through... if delegates even bother to read what they are voting on (unlike all the other stuff they've been passing recently). Yea for American "democracy". :(

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