Wearable Electronics and Reliability: An Overview (Part 1)

Posted by Chris Montgomery on Jul 13, 2016 10:30:00 AM

Wearables-and-Reliability-Pt-1.jpgIt’s estimated that the wearable electronics market will be worth nearly $13 million in 2018. It’s easy to understand why – 1 in 5 Americans own some type of wearable, like fitness trackers, smart glasses and watches, and 1 in 10 report wearing them daily. Factor in the use of personal medical applications like blood pressure screeners or insulin pumps and rapidly advancing technologies, and those numbers increase exponentially.

The pervasiveness of wearable electronics brings with it a general consumer expectation of device intuitiveness and long life. But, like any other type of consumer electronics, wearables are subject to failure from common causes like perspiration-related short circuiting and corrosion, power cord strain from clothing restriction, the use of non-optimized plasticizers and cyclic fatigue of solder joints.

Therefore, in order to minimize failure and meet consumer expectations, it is imperative that product reliability is addressed early on in wearable design and engineering.


Reliability, from a product design and engineering perspective, measures a product’s ability to perform the customer’s specified function within their environment over the expected life of the device. Developing a viable concept requires that designers and engineers boil functionality requirements to three fundamental questions:

  • What is the product supposed to do?
  • Where is the product going to be used?
  • What is a reasonable product lifetime?


Product reliability is only as good as what’s produced. To ensure a reliable product can go from design to manufacture:

  • Consider Design for Reliability (DfR) at the concept stage, when protocol specifications are created
  • Make deliberate parts selection, applying derating and uprating where appropriate
  • Incorporate wearout mechanisms and Physics of Failure (PoF), when necessary, to predict and manage product degradation

Wearable technology represents an exciting new way for people to engage with the world both personally and professionally, but its 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 Introduction to Designing for Reliability webinar. Just click the button below!

Introduction to Designing for Reliability

Topics: Design for Reliability

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