Radar: For Human and Environment
Radar technology is becoming smaller and cheaper – and is now reaching a level of miniaturization that is bringing it increasingly close to humans.
Radar for humans
One example is the monitoring of vital parameters such as respiration and pulse rate: radar measures the movement of the chest, from which the respiration rate is deduced. The pulse rate is derived from the movement of the skin – as in case of scanners at the airport through the clothing. This makes sense, for example, for newborns in hospitals or in elderly care, in sleep laboratories or in the fitness sector. A lot of research work is still needed for signal processing in this attractive field: Fraunhofer FHR is ideally positioned for this.
Radar is also suitable for other motion analysis problems, be it the motion analysis in sports or in a rehabilitation center. For example, Fraunhofer FHR is working with partners to research how to detect relieving postures after an accident.
Radar for communication
In the field of communication, human-machine interactions are of particular interest. For example, smartphones often already have an integrated radar sensor. The advantage is that the sensor recognizes gestures even through clothing. For example, a user can accept a call by gesture without taking the phone out of his or her jacket pocket. This also helps in occupational safety: Instead of having to press small buttons with thick work gloves, machines can be controlled with gestures and hand signals. This makes sense in areas where textile-penetrating gestures are necessary or the work environment is characterized by fumes and steam, for example.
Radar for the environment
Precision farming uses modern technologies to increase the efficiency of agriculture. Radar is tailor-made for this task: It is harmless to humans, animals and plants and allows not only imaging of leaves and stems, but also examination of roots. It thus allows plant penetrating analyses. Detection of wildlife and vital signs monitoring of farm animals is also an exciting field where radar technology can open up new possibilities.
In the wake of climate change, weather radar, along with weather forecasts based on it, are also becoming increasingly important. While these are established techniques, there is still much room for improvement. Here, the Human and Environment business unit is pursuing many ideas – because the technological leaps that have been achieved in the area of radar can also be used for weather radar.
The environment area also includes a red-flashing warning light on wind turbines that alerts aircraft pilots. In many areas, however, aircraft are the exception. The ParaSol radar developed in the Human and Environment business unit detects approaching aircraft and allows the flashing light to be switched on only when necessary. The system has already been approved by German air traffic control.