UWB-radar technology senses presence, respiration – in the next room

April 28, 2015 // By Graham Prophet
Norwegian company Novelda has created a sensing technology based on low-power impulse radio techniques which, in its first product releases, it is using to build detection modules for medical, health monitoring and “wellness” applications.

The sensors operate in the international UWB (ultra-wideband) spectrum space, and at the low RF power permitted there, and can implement ranging with millimetre resolution. The company has opted to apply the required signal processing and data interpretation to reduce the “radar return” information to outputs that are specific to (in this case) the respiration-detection application – that is, depth and frequency of breathing.

There are two sensor modules for detecting human presence and monitoring respiration, both based on Novelda’s XeThru technology. These can detect presence just from the chest movement while breathing, and measure both the rate and depth of breathing, allowing breathing patterns to be tracked in real-time. Despite the high frequencies involved, the technology can successfully detect through a variety of objects including lightweight building materials, duvets and blankets to provide non-contact sensing at a range of up to several metres. Lightweight building materials comprises, for example, internal partition walls. The modules, a company spokesman confirms, can easily detect the movement of baby’s chest wall through cot and bedding materials.

The XeThru X2M300 module is intended for smart home automation where its capability for detecting human presence while being integrated into a building’s structure enables hidden, tamper-proof sensing. As well as security and comfort applications, such as the convenient actuation of lighting and environmental controls, this module can enhance home safety, especially for the elderly or people who live alone, using the absence of normal activity to raise an alarm.

The X2M200 sensor module is designed for respiration monitoring of people of all ages for health and welfare purposes. It is particularly suited for sleep improvement systems and detecting sleep anomalies or other medical conditions.

Signal processing and data extraction and interpretation is sufficiently complex that the company has chosen to embed it technology in the application-specific module. In this form, the sensor identifies and provides data on one person – usually, the target closest to the