Electroencephalography (EEG)
Mixed Signal ASIC achieves a 90% cost reduction and improved performance
Technologies used

Mixed Signal ASIC

Industrial sector (PRODCOM code)
    331 Medical Instrumentation
Schwarzer GmbH Medical Diagnostic Equipment has more than 50 years experience in the field of medical diagnostic equipment and has pioneered the use of electronic measurement for improved patient diagnostics in the fields of neurology, cardiology and sleep polygraphy. It is a fully independent SME, based in Munich.

Our objective and motivation for performing the AE has been primarily to reduce costs by the increased integration level afforded by a dedicated ASIC, but a number of other benefits such as improved performance, smaller size/weight and lower power are willingly accepted as additional benefits. The ability to replicate the AE in future developments is a further driver.

Existing products for Electroencephalography (EEG), Electro-Cardiography (ECG) and Polygraphy are manufactured using standard discrete and IC components, not only because this has been the level of our existing experience, but also because discrete components can often have better low level signal handling specifications, particularly with regard to noise and crosstalk.

The newly adopted mixed signal ASIC technology not only offers a route to lower cost and size, but also enables an increase in complexity (more EEG channels for better diagnostics) and sophistication of our products. For example it can be envisaged that both EEG and ECG products in miniaturised form can in future be combined with r.f. or GPS transmitters for a range of improved and exciting products. Initially the chopper amplifier inputs in our ASIC have about the same performance as the discrete versions, but they are much smaller and have much greater potential for future improvement.

Our AE started at the beginning of Oct.'97 and ran for 19 months until April 1999 including an extension of 7 months. Main reasons for this extension were complications in noise and substrate coupling effects (no possible simulation) which forced a redesign. The total project cost up to the working prototype was 339.41 K, of which 159 K€ was the FUSE investment and 163 K industrialisation costs. With an estimated a cost saving of 340 K€ per year when the ASEEG ASIC is 100% installed, 'Return-on-Investment'over the first 5 years of sales will be of the order of 500%. The payback period of the original investment is anticipated in less than 18 months.

Benefits can be even greater than this if, as predicted, our improved competitiveness translates into higher market share.

Lessons learned during the project, include the realisation that redesign will probably always be necessary for such a complex mixed signal ASIC, and that good as our specification is, it can always be improved.


Schwarzer GmbH
Medical Diagnostics Equipment
BaermannStr. 38
D-81245 Munich

Detailed information

You can also benefit from microelectronics

Mixed Signal ASIC technology provided Schwarzer GmbH with the means of improving its products and enhancing its market position. You can also achieve significant benefits by acquiring the right microelectronics technology and utilising it in your product or manufacturing process. You can get help from FUSE to realise this.

FUSE is a technology transfer programme, funded by the European Commission to stimulate the wider use of microelectronics technologies by European enterprises to increase their competitiveness and enhance their economic growth. The demonstrator described here is one of many examples in the public FUSE portfolio covering the whole spectrum of microelectronics technologies and spanning a wide range of applications and industry sectors.

FUSE provides you with:

  • Best practice in acquiring specific microelectronics technologies and conducting full development projects through the FUSE portfolio of real life demonstrator documents.
  • Local training and expert support to plan your innovation realistically and help you conduct your project successfully.

Further information and support relating to this and other demonstrators can be obtained from the addresses below.

Further information   Guiding Technology Transfer Node
For further information and support regarding this case study, please contact a Technology Transfer Node (TTN) in your region.
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