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Radar chip by imec turns phone into wireless health tracker

Imec, Flanders’ strategic research center for nanotech and digital innovation, presented a movement-tracking radar chip prototype during the virtual 2020 Radio Frequency Integrated Circuits (RFIC) Symposium. Thanks to its compact size and low-energy design, the microchip can be installed in battery-powered devices such as smartphones, health trackers and wearables.  

Remote movement tracking

Because of its high modulation bandwidth of 7.2 GHz, imec’s radar chip can detect the slightest movement. As such, the chip could be used to register body functions or to recognize hand gestures.  

“Lab experiments have shown that our radar can detect a person’s heartbeat from five meters away. It can also accurately determine the speed and the position of a pedestrian and can distinguish between different targets,” explains Barend van Liempd, program manager of radar at imec.  

The possibilities are endless

The creation of the prototype opens up a wide range of new commercial applications. “With the built-in radar chip, we will be able to remotely record sleep quality with our phones by tracking breathing patterns and heart rate variations. However, it could just as well be used for baby monitoring or elderly care,” van Liempd remarks. 

Going wireless

The radar system only consumes 62 mW of electricity, considerably less than other radar solutions in its frequency range. Moreover, the chip is fully functionable in just one microsecond, so it only needs to be switched on when needed, further reducing its energy consumption. 

“With this prototype, we prove that radar technology is ready for the next big step: its application in wireless devices. We are currently looking for companies that believe in its potential and want to go into business with us,” comments Kathleen Philips, director of IoT at imec. 

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Reported by
13 August 2020

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