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Wearable Electronics and Reliability: An Overview (Part 2)

Posted by Chris Montgomery on Jul 15, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Wearables-and-Reliability-Pt-2.jpgIn Part 1 of this blog series, we examined how the popularity of wearable electronics and consumer expectations inform product design, engineering and reliability in terms of functionality and manufacturability.

Using that same jumping off point, we’ll now delve into how the reliability goals of wearable electronics need to be shaped around two key metrics in the design stage: desired lifetime and product performance.

Desired Lifetime

Generally speaking, a product’s desired lifetime is defined by customer expectations – more specifically, the product’s ability to meet those expectations. For example, customers anticipate running shoes to last through 600 miles of wear, watches that keep ticking for up to 20 years and cell phone upgrades to happen between 12 and 36 months. If these arbitrary lifetimes are met, customers are satisfied. If not, the product failed in their eyes. In reality, it likely failed well before that – in the manufacturer’s design phase.

The relative newness of wearable technologies provides opportunities to influence customer expectations around product lifetime by redefining the design parameters of product performance.

Product Performance

There are two areas of performance impact common to wearables:

  • Failure inducing loads that wearables might encounter like temperature cycling, sustained temperature, humidity, corrosion, power cycling, electrical loads, static and cyclic mechanical bending, random and harmonic vibration, and mechanical shock 
  • Environmental factors that define what the wearable technology standards should be as it relates to vibration, mechanical shock, dropping, bending, corrosion from handling or perspiration, rain/water contact and UV exposure. 

With wearable technologies, following these design best practices will maximize product performance: 

  • Use existing performance standards when certain aspects of your environment are common or if you have no access to the use environment
  • Measure when certain aspects of your environment are unique, or if you have strong customer relationships you can leverage to create test specifications for the actual use environment
  • Do not mistake test specification for the actual use environment as tests involving mechanical failure inducing loads are often more severe than what the product might actually encounter 

Wearable electronics represent an exciting new technology, but the wide-ranging impact must be balanced with minimal failure risk. Sherlock Automated Design Analysis™ software uses the Physics of Failure (PoF) to help engineers identify and correct failure risks during the design stage to optimize reliability in all applications and realize substantial time and cost savings.

Learn more by downloading our Integrating Design & Reliability: the Power of Physics of Failure webinar. Just click the button below!

Integrating-Design-and-Reliability-webinar

Topics: Design for Reliability