Investigation of mmWave Radar Technology For Non-contact Vital Sign Monitoring

15 Sep 2023  ·  Steven Marty, Federico Pantanella, Andrea Ronco, Kanika Dheman, Michele Magno ·

Non-contact vital sign monitoring has many advantages over conventional methods in being comfortable, unobtrusive and without any risk of spreading infection. The use of millimeter-wave (mmWave) radars is one of the most promising approaches that enable contact-less monitoring of vital signs. Novel low-power implementations of this technology promise to enable vital sign sensing in embedded, battery-operated devices. The nature of these new low-power sensors exacerbates the challenges of accurate and robust vital sign monitoring and especially the problem of heart-rate tracking. This work focuses on the investigation and characterization of three Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) low-power radars with different carrier frequencies of 24 GHz, 60 GHz and 120 GHz. The evaluation platforms were first tested on phantom models that emulated human bodies to accurately evaluate the baseline noise, error in range estimation, and error in displacement estimation. Additionally, the systems were also used to collect data from three human subjects to gauge the feasibility of identifying heartbeat peaks and breathing peaks with simple and lightweight algorithms that could potentially run in low-power embedded processors. The investigation revealed that the 24 GHz radar has the highest baseline noise level, 0.04mm at 0{\deg} angle of incidence, and an error in range estimation of 3.45 +- 1.88 cm at a distance of 60 cm. At the same distance, the 60 GHz and the 120 GHz radar system shows the least noise level, 0.0lmm at 0{\deg} angle of incidence, and error in range estimation 0.64 +- 0.01 cm and 0.04 +- 0.0 cm respectively. Additionally, tests on humans showed that all three radar systems were able to identify heart and breathing activity but the 120 GHz radar system outperformed the other two.

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