smartwatch design monitors health

smartwatch design monitors health

Outerspace electronic design team develops next-gen smart watch design.

Disguised as a popular smart watch, the Personal KinetiGraph or PKG smart watch holds complex electronic hardware and systems that are working hard to guide essential monitoring of tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease and ongoing patient treatment.

PKGs or Personal KinetiGraphs monitor the intensity and frequency of tremors caused by Parkinson’s Disease. Our systems engineering and design teams have been working closely with the Global Kinetics research team to develop the next-gen version of their PKG smart watch.

smartwatch monitors tremors

The smart watch project was defined and scoped during COVID19 lockdowns and our experienced product development team reacted and adapted to the challenges that came with operating through a pandemic, including electronic component shortages. With key risks identified, the smart watch development ran smoothly and our electronic, mechanical and design team delivered. Our strengths in product development across multiple product types and markets provided flexibility and strength in a challenging time.


next-gen pathway led to complexity in a discreet wearable

The original PKG watch was a simple accelerometer in a box, strapped to a patient’s wrist to record fine tremors, collate data and report back to medical practitioners, allowing them to manage medication and treatment.

When Global Kinetics contacted us, the device had evolved into a wrist watch, which used an integrated LCD screen with traditional hands to replicate a traditional watch. In the first iteration of the wrist watch, the microprocessor used was a Toshiba TZ1000, which was later updated to a more modern processor, an STM 32.

Our experience in medical device design, while using a regulatory, multi-disciplinary systems approach was uniquely matched to the project requirements and to the internal capabilities of Global Kinetics.

The PKG watch was initially marketed directly to physicians who would set up the device for a patient to monitor their tremors remotely, while the device generates a report that allows the physician to review and adjust medication. The marketing strategy has shifted to align with drug development and Parkinson’s Disease research, funded by pharmaceutical groups.


the technical design brief

Our design brief was to modernize the interface while keeping the core functions of the watch. We did this by introducing a high-resolution TFT LCD color screen and bespoke User Interface (UI) to make it look and feel like an everyday smart watch and remove the stigma associated with wearing an obvious medical device. The intent was to blend the newer microprocessor with the updated screen and to package everything to make it look fresh.

pkg smartwatch on charger with data sheets

systems engineering drove project direction

Through a series of initial engagements with Global Kinetics, we mapped the core user requirements for their product idea and established clear technical goals. A systems engineering approach was used to derive a set of engineering requirements, which were balanced against technical and project related risk.

Directions were weighed against supply constraints, to establish a development timeframe with clear prototype deliverables. The project scope was reviewed with our client and a development contract was established. Our designers and engineers developed the brief from a styling and an electronics point of view.

The styling informed the structural and mechanical design, and our electronics team developed a screen specification and interface that matched the existing electronics architecture. This allowed us to source a new custom-designed color screen unit and write the firmware to run the system.

A screen unit was sourced that met both the user and engineering requirements. The high resolution TFT LCD screen was fitted to a custom designed glass panel that reflected the updated styling. Integration of the screen with the electronics hardware then began in earnest.


a flexible, managed process kept development on track

Understanding the core realities of the product needs, there was a strong desire to go ahead with the existing STM32 based microprocessor. However, during the development, a major technical risk was realized with COVID19 related component shortages, meaning that using the chosen microprocessor would have caused a minimum delay of 1-2 years to the project.

Our team needed to rethink, restructure, be flexible and reactive, to develop the watch within the timeframe. We quickly pivoted to a readily available set of electronics hardware based on the previous microprocessor. Significant effort went into developing firmware to balance the features of the high resolution screen within the limitations of the available electronics hardware.


engineers and designers collaborate on user-interface design

Our industrial design and firmware teams workshopped and iterated Graphic User Interface ( GUI) designs early in the development in collaboration with Global Kinetics. Colors were modified after trials with slight updates to the design details, designed to simplify patient experience along with improvements to firmware operation to maximize display colors and refresh rates.

UI design for smartwatch
final concept for UI design

The team workshopped and iterated user-interface and graphics designs throughout the project in collaboration with our client – to suit user needs and fit within the accepted user interaction flow of the PKG watch system.


mechanical design

External styling options were developed within the technical constraints of the project – minimum electronics footprint, optimal screen size, battery size to match target powered operation with the smallest package; along with an updated electronic interface, capacitive sensor, haptic feedback system and internal magnets. This was developed into a manufacturable device by our mechanical engineering team.

The charging interface was updated to improve feel and feedback with the interaction between the watch and the dock during charging.

smartwatch, charging station and case

As part of the styling update, the industrial design team created new interchangeable watch straps that have a commonly available interface. This allows patients to customize their smart watch using off-the-shelf strap options.

Our mechanical engineers designed the casing to suit the internal componentry – PCBA, capacitive touch sensor, haptic feedback system, battery, magnets, interface pogo pins and screen and optimized it around the existing electronics architecture.


trials and user testing

Global Kinetics conducted trials and user testing while outerspace assisted with the protocols and materials for these. The research and development team at Global Kinetics understand medical device development, and have experience in regulatory testing, device documentation and dealing with ISO regulations and the FDA.

Outerspace coordinated and supported verification of the product, which included waterproof testing to IP57, drop impact testing, EMC/EMI testing, ESD testing and compliance with material biocompatibility regulations.

The PKG watch design was resolved with the tooling manufacturer to optimize the manufactured look and feel of the parts.

The balance of styling and technical objectives were iteratively updated to establish a product design that not only looks great, but fits all of the internal hardware as effectively as possible.

Our multidisciplinary team took the PKG watch from being a uniquely styled medical device to something much more discrete, in an effort to remove the stigma associated with the health issues it is used to help treat.


Are you looking for an expert team to develop your product? Contact us to discuss your requirements.


Julian Banfield

Systems Engineering Manager

Hayley English

Industrial Designer

Fred Blochlinger

Founder and Managing Director

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