New Feature for the Smartwatch in the Works

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A smartwatch is without doubt one of the most ingenious technological inventions since the advent of smartphones. However, tapping icons on a tiny screen can sometimes get a bit tiresome. But soon it will not be much of an inconvenience, as a miniaturized radar technology with gesture recognition system is on the works by imec, a Research and Development hub located in Belgium. The radar technology will allow users to simply swipe through the air above their smartwatches to make it function.

With the radar chip having a high frequency of 145GHz, even exceeding the bands in car radars, the technology can benefit from millimeter-scale resolution. This means that the radar can detect even the slightest movements.

The program director of Iot for imec, Kathleen Philips, said the hub recognizes the limitations that come with the small screens of smartwatches, hence the innovation of the miniaturized radar technology. The radar is supposed to address this limitation given its technology to measure micro movements.

The radar chip senses motion by emitting a pulse of radiation and scaling the amount of time it requires to be reflected back.

The new radar has a resolution of 15 millimeters and a range of up to 10 meters. It can easily see through the clothes unlike camera and time-of-flight sensors. These specifications lead to another possible function of the radar – the monitoring of vital signs.  The radar chip’s capacity to detect micro movements allows it to sense breathing and heartbeat through the slightest movement of your chest. This function can be a good way to check on drivers’ physical conditions to avoid possible incidents of fatigues and accidents.

 At present, the chip has one transmitter and four receivers, but imec is planning to add three more transmitters to it.

According to a report by the IEEE Spectrum, the radar can thus far recognize a few gestures such as left and right swipe, tap, and click.