Imec uses CMOS technology to produce compact and inexpensive radar modules. For example, imec’s 79GHz radar module can be used for car-to-car communication. But radar technology can also be used to measure heart and respiration rates. There are already radar devices on the market capable of measuring these parameters in one person standing still. However, imec researchers want to take things a step further and record readings from various people within a particular space, even if they are moving. Once again here you have to take variable quality of data into account.
Researchers have succeeded in using a 5-7 GHz radar device to measure the heart and breathing rates of two different people within a space, 2 meters away from the radar. As with capacitive sensors, smart algorithms are again used to tackle the issue of variable reliability so that this issue is not an obstacle for practical applications. The radar device used in this experiment is still fairly large and serves mainly to demonstrate the principle. Ultimately, a much smaller radar module needs to be used that can be integrated virtually invisibly into, say, an office environment or in the dashboard of a car. One radar module per space is sufficient to take readings from various people.
In parallel to this, researchers in the radar team are working on a new type of radar that operates at 140GHz. This unit is very compact because the antennas are very small and the whole system is integrated onto a single chip. This radar will enable both the distance and direction of a person to be measured in relation to the radar. This means that the readings for different people in the same space will become even more accurate.