The Intruder Alarm and Perimeter Protection sector has over the last decade become very familiar with using radar technology to detect intruders trying to break through perimeter fences.
It is now being used within smart buildings to support organisations as they explore options for moving staff safely back into their buildings. The solutions focus on the key elements of safety and security around COVID-19, including prevention, protection and response. Several companies including Infineon Technologies and Texas Instruments have been developing 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 are 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,” Hollfelder went on to say in an interview with eeNews.
Infineon’s radar technology has its roots in the automotive sector. Radar sensors have been effectively measuring distances, speeds and movements while driving for a while now. Infineon has further developed these functions for small devices. The 60 GHz chip is a radar system with antennas covering a small area (5 x 6.5 mm) coupled with low power consumption. It can perceive movements in rooms or measure distances from objects in the millimetre range with precision. With the appropriate software, the motion data is converted into functions, so that control via gestures is possible without touching the device.
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.
However being able to use the data from the radar sensors effectively is also vital says Hollfelder at Infineon. The company works with Klika Tech who provide data management systems for smart buildings 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.”
Our report on the Building Internet of Things (BIoT) published last month shows that after ten years of developing the communication solutions joining all the disparate sensors in commercial buildings, fully functioning BIoT systems are becoming a reality.
Whilst the latest radar technology looks to offer an interesting alternative it will be difficult to dislodged the present incumbents, particularly in the commercial office space.