How to modernize ECG designs to diagnose and monitor patients more accurately


For decades, ECGs have been widely used to diagnose and monitor a range of cardiac conditions. However, with the integration of modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), wireless communication, and low-power-consumption integrated circuits (ICs) on smaller form factors, ECGs can revolutionize the field of cardiac care. This application brief will discuss the features, block diagram and system benefits of an electrocardiogram design.

An electrocardiogram, or ECG, is a medical test that records the electrical activity of the heart. For decades, ECGs have been widely used to diagnose and monitor a range of cardiac conditions. However, with the integration of modern technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), wireless communication, and low-power-consumption integrated circuits (ICs) on smaller form factors, ECGs can revolutionize the field of cardiac care.

Arrow can assist customers in developing connected ECG devices that integrate AI, wireless communication, and other advanced features by aggregating and integrating diverse technology and services. This can accelerate the product development process and bring innovative solutions to the market faster, ultimately improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

One of the main benefits of AI in ECG is its ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly and accurately, using machine learning algorithms. By identifying patterns and anomalies in ECG readings that might be missed by human clinicians, AI-powered ECG technology can provide more accurate and efficient diagnoses, which can improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

Wireless ECG technology offers convenience and accessibility, but it requires security measures to protect patient data. Encryption protocols and secure authentication can safeguard privacy and prevent unauthorized access. It’s crucial to follow industry standard security protocols and best practices to prevent cyber attacks and data breaches while providing patients with remote ECG monitoring.

The integration of ECG monitoring with AI, wireless communication, low power consumption, and small form factors has enabled the development of advanced medical devices that offer promising solutions for improving patient outcomes and enhancing the efficiency of healthcare delivery. These devices facilitate real-time monitoring of patients’ heart activity and early diagnosis and intervention of cardiac conditions.

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  • AI algorithms for data analysis
  • Monitoring and diagnosis in real time
  • Secure wireless connectivity
  • Low power consumption
  • Small Form Factor

System Block Diagram

The ECG system presented consists of three main blocks: the analog front-end, the processing interface, and the power management unit. The analog front-end block is responsible for acquiring, filtering, and conditioning the ECG signals from the patient’s body. The processing interface block performs digital signal processing and analysis on the acquired signals to extract relevant diagnostic information. Finally, the power management unit regulates the power supply for the ECG system and ensures safe operation.

ECG System Block Diagram

System Benefits

The use of advanced digital signal adaptors and algorithms significantly enhances the signal quality and accuracy in ECG machines. By leveraging these technologies, ECG machines can reduce the number of physical components required, resulting in a more compact and portable device. This reduction in physical components also helps to lower the overall cost of the device, making it more accessible to a wider range of healthcare facilities and professionals.

To acquire biopotential data, it is necessary to use a digitizer to convert the signals produced by the heart. However, this process can be complicated due to various types of interference that need to be rejected, including signals from external RF sources, pace signals, signals from other muscles, electrical noise, etc. To eliminate noise, an analog front-end (AFE) is typically employed. AFEs are designed to simplify the task of acquiring and ensuring quality ECG signals.

One of the main advantages of using microcontrollers (MCUs) or microprocessors (MPUs) that have the capability to run AI models on a small package with enough resources is the ability to bring AI to edge devices. With AI models running directly on the MCU, edge devices can make intelligent decisions without needing to send data to the cloud or a remote server for processing. This can greatly improve response time and reduce latency, which is critical for real-time applications such as ECG devices. Additionally, running AI models on the MCU or MPU can significantly reduce power consumption and cost compared to using a separate processor for AI, making it a more practical solution for many applications.

Reach out to discuss MCUs and MPUs that support AI models with an engineer.


Using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as a wireless communication protocol on an ECG device offers several benefits. First, BLE consumes very little power compared to other wireless communication protocols, which is critical for battery-operated ECG devices that need to last for an extended period without requiring frequent battery replacements. Second, BLE provides a secure and reliable wireless connection that can transmit ECG data in real-time, allowing healthcare providers to monitor patients remotely and respond quickly in case of any abnormalities. Third, BLE has become a widely adopted standard for wireless communication in the healthcare industry, making it easier to integrate ECG devices with other healthcare systems and devices. Finally, BLE offers a user-friendly experience, allowing patients to connect to their ECG devices using their smartphones or tablets and view their ECG data in real-time. Overall, using BLE as a wireless communication protocol on an ECG device can improve patient care, enhance patient experience, and increase the efficiency of healthcare providers.

Efficient power management is critical for the successful operation of edge solutions, particularly for battery-operated devices. First, USB-C is a versatile interface that can provide both power and data communication, allowing for a single cable to be used for both functions. This simplifies the design of the edge solution and reduces the number of cables required. Second, including a battery in the edge solution provides backup power in case of a power outage and allows the device to operate independently of a power outlet. Additionally, a battery can smooth out power fluctuations and reduce the strain on the PMIC, improving overall system stability. Third, a fuel gauge can be used to accurately measure the battery’s state of charge and provide information to the system about how much power is remaining. This helps prevent unexpected power loss and allows for better power management. Finally, a PMIC can be used to efficiently convert the battery voltage to multiple output voltages required by the system. This reduces power loss and improves energy efficiency, extending the battery life of the device. Overall, implementing power management using USB-C, a battery, and a PMIC can improve the reliability and efficiency of edge solutions while providing a more flexible and convenient user experience.

Finally, the use of a display as a user interface on an ECG device can make it easier for patients and healthcare providers to understand ECG readings. A display can provide real-time feedback during measurement and offer additional features like touch input and graphical user interfaces.

Medical Professional Taking Notes at Computer

ECG ANALOG FRONT END POWER MANAGEMENT Single Cell battery charger Power Management ICs (PMIC) CONNECTIVITY BLE Wireless Module BLE Wireless SoC MCU/MPU ESC SELECTOR GUIDES IP&E USB Type-C RF Connectors

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