An Error-Based Approximation Sensing Circuit for Event-Triggered Low-Power Wearable Sensors
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Event-based sensors have the potential to optimize energy consumption at every stage in the signal processing pipeline, including data acquisition, transmission, processing, and storage. However, almost all state-of-the-art systems are still built upon the classical Nyquist-based periodic signal acquisition. In this work, we design and validate the Polygonal Approximation Sampler (PAS), a novel circuit to implement a general-purpose event-based sampler using a polygonal approximation algorithm as the underlying sampling trigger. The circuit can be dynamically reconfigured to produce either a coarse or detailed reconstruction of the analog input by adjusting the error threshold of the approximation. The proposed circuit is designed at the Register Transfer Level and processes each input sample received from the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) in a single clock cycle. The PAS has been tested with three different types of archetypal signals captured by wearable devices (electrocardiogram, accelerometer, and respiration data) and compared with a standard periodic ADC. These tests show that single-channel signals, with slow variations and constant segments (like the used single-lead ECG and the respiration signals), take great advantage of the used sampling technique, reducing the amount of data used up to 99% without significant performance degradation. At the same time, multi-channel signals (like the six-dimensional accelerometer signal) can still benefit from the designed circuit, achieving a reduction factor of up to 80% with minor performance degradation. These results open the door to new types of wearable sensors with reduced size and higher battery lifetime.