Impulse radar chip can monitor vital signs

Engineers working for Oslo University spin-out Novelda have developed a single-chip CMOS impulse radar transceiver designed for human vital sign monitoring, personal security and industrial automation.

When connected to a suitable antenna, the chip is capable of simultaneously transmitting ultra-short electromagnetic pulses, sampling the reflected signal and storing it as a sequence of discrete samples, effectively measuring the backscattered or reflected energy from objects in the surroundings.

As radio waves have penetrating properties, reflections from objects behind an obstacle can be detected due to the receivers’ ultra-high sensitivity.

The pulses created by the radar chip are typically shorter than one nanosecond in duration, and their bandwidth spans over several GHz in the frequency domain. Different materials have different penetration properties, and the optimal bandwidth for a given application will depend on the material that needs to be penetrated. Novelda offers several different bandwidths between 1 and 10GHz.

In addition to being an alternative to existing technologies, such as image, ultrasound and infrared sensors, the device’s developers believe that they could easily be integrated into small mobile devices.

Novelda provides development kits and software for the device to help developers save time and costs for prototyping and concept development.

Its development kit is the starting point for any engineer who wishes to develop applications based on the impulse radar chip. It consists of one RF board and one I/O module, which are connected through pin header connectors. If desirable, the RF board can be used without the I/O module as a plug-in to existing prototype systems.