Highly-integrated, low-power, 24-GHz radio wave sensor from Socionext

December 21, 2017 Rich Nass

Unlike other proximity sensors available on the market, the compact 24-GHz sensor from Socionext weighs just 0.145 g and comes in a 40-pin 12- by 7- by 0.8-mm pin package. It offers wide range detection, works well under various environmental conditions (-40ºC to 85ºC), and can sense very frequent movements with 8-cm resolution.

The module includes all necessary components, including a PLL and ADCs for sensing in IoT and smart-home applications. For medical applications, the sensor is suitable for observational equipment for detecting small movements, like heartbeat, breathing, and other muscle movements from distances as small as 0.5 m. The radio wave can easily pass through material such as fabric and resin without degradation.

The radar senses and provides data without displaying the physical images. Unlike computer vision, the sensor’s ability to monitor people and detect complex states and activities without invasion of privacy is a key advantage.

Implementing radar can be a complex endeavor, from the analog and RF antenna design, to the Fast Fourier Transforms (FFT) needed to make sense of the quadrature (referred to as IQ) data. To fast-track these engineering hurdles, the module uses a simple SPI interface to connect to most digital systems. In addition, a simple API was developed to take advantage of the design’s CW (Doppler), FSKCW, and FMCW capabilities to provide detection, direction, distance, and velocity information. The sensor can detect movements of multiple objects within a 160° radius.

About the Author

Rich Nass

Richard Nass is the Executive Vice-President of OpenSystems Media. His key responsibilities include setting the direction for all aspects of OpenSystems Media’s Embedded and IoT product portfolios, including web sites, e-newsletters, print and digital magazines, and various other digital and print activities. He was instrumental in developing the company's on-line educational portal, Embedded University. Previously, Nass was the Brand Director for UBM’s award-winning Design News property. Prior to that, he led the content team for UBM Canon’s Medical Devices Group, as well all custom properties and events in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. Nass has been in the engineering OEM industry for more than 25 years. In prior stints, he led the Content Team at EE Times, handling the Embedded and Custom groups and the TechOnline DesignLine network of design engineering web sites. Nass holds a BSEE degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

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