Miniature Sensors for Medical Applications Offer Lots of
Miniature Sensors for Medical Applications Offer Lots of Design Options
The ability to design in reliable, accurate sensor functionality within the constraints of an ever-shrinking space is critical in a wide range of applications — and a difficult requirement. However, among other benefits, miniaturization, including downsizing module systems, can free valuable board space and reduce interference by giving designers greater flexibility to position components on the printed circuit board (PCB).
The medical industry continues to be a major driver for sensor miniaturization as well as ultra-reliability as extremely small, accurate sensors are required for applications inside the human body, where they hold great promise in medical procedures such as arthroplasty (force sensors employed in joint replacement) and spinal fusion. In external use, sensors suppliers must provide flexible mounting options to ensure that the sensor is positioned as close to the patient and/or fluids (e.g., pharmaceuticals, blood or water) as possible for accurate and precise measurement.
The development of small, portable healthcare equipment to accommodate tight spaces in hospitals also allows care providers to quickly and easily move equipment from one patient to the next. The miniaturization of sensors is helping to make this possible in such designs as mobile medical devices, wearable technology, and handheld instruments.
Many elements must converge to enable this downsizing. For example, beyond the physical and packaging requirements of fitting into an end product that is itself small in size, there are budgetary and technology issues such as a constant need to reduce BOM costs via integrating multiple sensor functions into a single, smaller package.
Putting the evolution of medical sensors into context, let’s take a brief look at the history of pacemakers.