Indoor radar fights Covid-19 in smart buildings

Indoor radar fights Covid-19 in smart buildings

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Several companies are looking to indoor radar technology for systems to fight Covid-19 through measuring room occupancy for social distancing and even monitoring the heartbeats and temperature of individuals for infection.

“Infineon believes in our radar technology for proximity and occupancy with the highest energy efficiency,” said Manuel Hollfelder, emerging applications manager at Infineon.  “What we see today is that more and more applications coming inside the building for Covid-19. With people counting and presence detection, this becomes more and more important. However these use cases were out there in the market before covid-19 but now we see more interest.”

The latest standard for power-over-ethernet (PoE) allows 100W to be delivered by the data lines, suitable for indoor radar systems. “The benefits are lower infrastructure costs with no second power grid cables and easier power management using IP communications so every device can be integrated into the network, so we are enabling the power in power over ethernet,” he said.  

Texas Instruments (TI) is also seeing its radar and power technologies being used to fight Covid-19 in smart buildings. Symptomsense in New York has used TI’s millimetre wave radar technology for a scanner that can detect temperature, heart beat and respiration rates. “The solution is designed to check hundreds of people per hour for virus symptoms. The sensor can quickly detect basic vital signs that could indicate illness, including heart rate and breathing rate,” said TI.

“Teams are working day and night,” said Ajinder Singh, general manager, Medical sector, Systems Engineering & Marketing at TI. “We are all in this together. It affects all of us. It’s personal.”

Last year, the imec centre in Belgium developed an 8GHz ultra wideband (UWB) indoor radar transceiver with a power consumption under 1mW aimed at occupancy detection in smart buildings. Thw 40nm chip is capable of detecting even micro-movements from human respiration or heartbeats, up to a distance of 15m.

The transceiver is compliant with FCC and ETSI spectral regulations for the UWB frequency range, limiting the radiation to -41dBm/MHz, well below the noise floor of mainstream commercial systems. This means the radar can safely be used for 24/7 people presence detection without health concerns.

 “With the new transceiver, we have an exceptional tool to create innovative smart building applications such as presence detection, people counting, fall detection, activity classification and even non-contact vital signs monitoring,” said Barend van Liempd, program manager at imec. “Together with our novel sensor fusion algorithms, our offering opens up completely new opportunities for remote sensing in various fields such as automotive, smart buildings and human-machine interaction. We invite interested companies, chip designers and application developers, for licensing of this technology or participation in the imec R&D programs.”

However being able to use the data from the radar sensors effectively is also vital says Hollfelder at Infineon. The company works with Klika Technology who provide data management systems for smart building running on the Amazon Web Service (AWS)

“It’s very important to understand how the infrastructure works,” he said. “The cloud providers are providing the infrastructure to build data collection and intelligence services, for example a database in the  cloud, so to get the insights from the data, this is part of Klika Tech’s offering.”

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