This week, at the 2019 International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC2019), imec announced a radar transceiver designed as an efficient, low-cost solution for presence detection in smart building solutions.
The power consumption of the radar is below 1mW, which is 100 times lower than other solutions, and is capable of detecting even micro-movements from human respiration, up to a distance of 15 meters. This performance makes it a breakthrough solution for low-cost battery-powered presence-detection and people counting applications in offices, hospitals and on industrial sites. The new 8GHz UWB radar was developed by imec the Netherlands (within the framework of Holst Centre, Eindhoven).
Similar as camera, radar can build a picture of its environment. While cameras are especially good at 2D images, radar is superior in detecting movement and distance. In many circumstances, radar sensors are better suited than cameras for presence detection, people tracking or activity classification. That is for example the case when privacy considerations are key, such as in office spaces, hotel rooms, or hospitals. Another advantage is their robustness to suboptimal light conditions. Different from camera, radar can detect micro-movements due to respiration or heartbeat. However, current commercial radars use too much power, and often require more expensive semiconductor technologies. This makes them unsuited for low-cost and battery-powered operation. Imec’s new transceiver has been specifically designed with these requirements in mind, making it a breakthrough for presence detection applications.
The new transceiver is compliant with FCC and ETSI spectral regulations for the UWB frequency range, limiting the radiation to -41dBm/MHz. This energy density is well below the noise floor of mainstream commercial systems, and therefore, this radar can safely be used for 24/7 people presence detection without health concerns. The power consumption of the transciever IC is less than 1mW, at least 100 times less than comparable solutions. With that, it is able to discern movements and vital signs – breathing and heartbeats – up to 15 meters, which is a record for UWB radars. The imec chip was designed in standard 40nm CMOS and has a die size of 1.8mm2.