Where we encounter radar technology
RADAR has a bad reputation. Because in our heads we associate this technology with the police’s radar speed traps. Not even the best weather radar or the secure navigation of air and sea traffic can undo this negative bias. What many people don’t know: we already rely on this sensor technology today in more places than we think. The technology offers helpful solutions in everyday life.
The data gathered via radar technology supports technological devices and systems in reacting to persons and their behaviour and in perceiving surroundings. The sensors act as a sensory organ for the devices – similarly to eyes. Often times they are a prerequisite for automated and on-demand control. Well-hidden and coupled with additional systems, the useful applications are already a fixed component of our everyday life. The following scenario demonstrates where we meet the compact radar sensors and what their uses might be in the future.
Scenario: discover radar applications in everyday life
A young engineer is lying in his bed and dreaming about his newest development: radar-based gesture control. In his dream, he is controlling the multimedia offer presented by his television with a simple hand gesture and, enthralled, he tests system’s accuracy.
Even as a radar expert he never ceases to be amazed by the quick and clever development work underway in the sensor technology sector. What started out with simple door openers boasts unimagined possibilities for the future. Curious what latest inventions await him in his modern dream house, he goes on a journey of discovery. Maybe he will soon stumble upon the next idea for a future successful project for himself and his team. There is great potential in the smart home and security sector.
However, he doesn’t get far, because the shrill ringing of his alarm clock abruptly tears him from his sleep. Too bad – he would have rather continued to dream of the house of the future and clever innovations. But duty calls: radar systems don’t get developed by themselves. Our protagonist places both of his feet on the bedroom floor, quickly stretches and walks towards the door. As a technology enthusiast, he has equipped his flat with many smart applications. An integrated LED strip lights up automatically, following his every step, so he can safely reach the bathroom. Instead of sleepily searching for the light switch, a quick wave of the hand across the bathroom wall suffices. The toilet lid swings open as soon as the engineer gets close to the toilet . He also uses the water tap and soap dispenser completely without contact, while the toilet seemingly flushes and cleans itself on its own. When he leaves the room, the light switches off behind him and the toilet seat slowly swings shut again like magic.
His next destination is the kitchen. Just when he turns around the corner, the refrigerator greets the young man with an enthusiastic “Good morning!” and displays its contents on a display. When he directly approaches the refrigerator, the door opens, and he takes out the breakfast items he needs. The contactless control used to be nothing but a cool gadget to him, but today he wouldn’t want to do without it in his household. Not just to avoid common bacteria colonies on doorknobs or light switches. No, it is also much more convenient. He smiles as he remembers how many times he had accidentally dirtied everything with his fingers that were greasy from cooking before reaching the sink. The clean-up work is now a thing of the past thanks to the contactless proximity switch and motion detector.
The delightful smell of his favourite drink wafts through the room; the coffee maker has been busy in the meantime. The engineer doesn’t need to press a button for this either. He also has taken the liberty to integrate a sensor that determines the perfect filling level for each cup and another one to switch on the machine as soon as he enters the room.
After his prolonged breakfast, the engineer is suddenly in a hurry. In order not to be late for work he needs to pick up the pace. He gathers his belongings and is about to leave the house in a rush when a screen above the door reminds him to take his keys and laptop with him. A little sensor-controlled memory aid that has helped him to avoid unpleasant situations on numerous occasions.
Upon leaving his parking place in his car, the hectic engineer is luckily supported by driver assistance systems. The blind spot detection prevents him from hitting a cyclist. What a day! For a brief moment, thoughts go through his mind like “Is the oven still on?”, “Have I switched off the heating?” or “Is the alarm system activated?” He wonders if he should include these questions in the memory aid system above the door, so that they’re shown to him when he leaves the house. But he calmly recalls that his flat is equipped with intelligent technology fusion, which efficiently controls energy consumption based on whether or not there are persons present. Besides control of the air-conditioning and heating, devices such as the stove switch off automatically and security measures switch on as soon as no one is present.
A red, flashing traffic sign pulls him out of his day-dreaming. “You are driving 55 km/h” is the result of the radar-based speed measurement according to the striking sign. The driver immediately reduces his speed. At an empty crossing, the sensor-controlled traffic light switches to green right away and gives him extra precious time in order to avoid being late. 10 minutes before starting work, he enters the parking garage at his workplace. Because there is a line of cars, he comes to a stop right under the entry barrier. Many people feel uncomfortable in this situation, but the engineer is well-acquainted with the underlying technology and trusts it completely. The barrier remains open until his vehicle has completely passed through. Little green lights show him the next free parking spot. While the lighting switches off behind him one light at a time, he makes his way to his innovative work place.
These demonstrations cover only a small part of the radar applications available. Did you recognise them all? They range from smart home, to security, building automation, automotive and traffic monitoring applications – we encounter these sensors everywhere. By means of electromagnetic waves, they deliver information about objects or people within their detection range – the people themselves, however, remain anonymous. Radar technology not only provides information about presence or absence, but can additionally detect speed, direction of movement, angle, position and distance. Based on the evaluated data, connected electronic components are controlled on demand and automatically. This cooperation results in useful and comfortable applications for our everyday lives such as the classic electronic door opener in shopping malls. Even if we don’t consciously notice the technology or we take it for granted – it offers us convenience and safety we wouldn’t want to do without in the future.