“Millimeter-wave radar is an evolving technology that is ideal for enabling new and innovative capabilities in home monitoring and healthcare. Check out the links to this article and some of the resources listed below to learn more about mmWave radar sensors, including evaluation modules, demo software, or solutions from our third-party partners.
With advances in healthcare, the average life expectancy of humans continues to increase. The size and proportion of the elderly population is growing in almost every country in the world, with the total number of people aged 65 and over projected to double to 1.5 billion by 2050. At the same time, in response to this aging trend, home care or nursing facilities must be scaled up.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 25 percent of older adults fall each year, and falls in older adults are the leading cause of traumatic hospital admissions in the United States. Knowing when a fall or other health-related event occurs and being able to respond quickly helps ensure patients get the care they need.
Current Technology C Home Health
Innovations in medical sensors and connectivity technologies are helping seniors lead normal lives at home and ensure timely assistance in the event of an accident. These medical sensors are often based on accelerometers to detect motion characteristics such as falls, and can automatically call family members or caregivers for help.
Seniors must wear these battery-powered sensors on their necks or wrists; wearing them on the body helps the sensors recognize macroscopic movements such as falls and use connected nodes to contact family members or caregivers. Other sensors, such as an electrocardiogram or pulse oximeter, can also provide a continuous view of health parameters (such as vital signs or sleep quality).
As shown in Figure 1, each of these medical sensors faces its own challenges. To ensure efficient operation, consumers must remember to wear and charge it, which may compromise comfort or viability. Some models require the patient to press a button in the event of a health event, but cannot function if the patient is incapacitated. Finally, sensors need to be very accurate in order to differentiate between fall events and daily activities. Current sensors tend to misjudge when a person is sitting down quickly or clapping their hands. Privacy concerns can also arise when certain types of sensors, such as those used in optical cameras, are placed in the home.
Figure 1: By addressing issues such as sedentary or mobility, falls, and detection of vital signs that indicate long-term health trends or sleep quality,
Helps achieve family health.
Millimeter-Wave Radar: Contactless Sensing with Privacy
60GHz millimeter-wave radar is another sensing technology that can be used to detect and track home health and behavior. Radar helps solve a variety of sensing challenges, including determining whether a room is occupied (and how many), identifying motion signatures to discern fall events, and measuring a person’s vital signs to assess sleep quality. Millimeter-wave radar is essentially a radio frequency-based sensor that senses without touching the body, and since the sensor does not provide any visual identification information, it can be installed in sensitive areas such as bedrooms or bathrooms. Combining these features at the application level can help provide peace of mind for loved ones and caregivers by capturing family safety and health information through a home monitoring system.
The IWR6843AOP utilizes the on-chip antenna and the on-board processing capabilities of the microcontroller and digital signal processor to process the target’s range, velocity, and angle information. Distance and angle information can be used to generate a “point cloud” that, when fed into a history tracker, can determine not only whether a person is in a room, but also where that person is in the room. This point cloud and tracker information can be used to determine if a person is moving or sedentary, or if they have normal behaviors, such as walking to the kitchen in the morning.
Taking the radar point cloud indicating a fall as an example, Figure 2 represents the point cloud with green dots, and assigns a red trajectory to this cluster of point clouds. The image on the right shows the instantaneous and average height of a person, and algorithms can be used to detect if a person has fallen.
Figure 2: Example of radar point cloud after a person has fallen
Velocity information can measure the motion characteristics of objects in the room. Through tailored algorithms or artificial intelligence, these motion signatures can identify behaviors such as unsteady gait, falling or near-falling. Another use is at the bedside to measure activity during sleep and determine if sleep patterns have changed. As shown in Figure 3, the motion signature can even measure a person’s heart rate and breathing rate while sitting or lying down.
Figure 3: Heart rate and respiratory rate measured using the IWR6843AOP sensor,
The sensor is installed at chest height, 1.2m and 2.5m away from the seated person, respectively.
In Figure 3, the upper part of the picture shows a comparison of the IWR6843AOP processed output (green line) using a chest-mounted commercial heart rate monitor (black line). The heart rate error is less than 5bpm (relative to the true value of the chest-mounted sensor), indicating that good measurement accuracy can be guaranteed without the sensor touching the body.
Millimeter-wave radar is an evolving technology that is ideal for enabling new and innovative capabilities in home monitoring and healthcare. Check out the links to this article and some of the resources listed below to learn more about mmWave radar sensors, including evaluation modules, demo software, or solutions from our third-party partners.
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