Panasonic brings health care to the home

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Panasonic brings health care to the home
Teaming up with Kyoto University, multinational electronics company, Panasonic, has advanced its key technologies to evolve its radar health monitor for use in the home.

“Bringing health care home”​, Kyoto University's Centre of Innovation and Panasonic have developed their radar health monitor with a “major upgrade”​ to suit today’s consumers.

Understanding the body’s signals

First developed in 2016, the radar health monitor enables personal health care in the home to “instantaneously and accurately measure the body's vital signals”.​ It provides a wireless measurement of signs such as respiration and heartbeats. Now, the device has been downsized and further advanced.

Stating that with its original technical features, “the prototype was the size of a microwave oven”,​ the team’s aim was to refine the device.

Incorporating a number of improvements, the new radar health monitor includes the use of a wider 79-GHz frequency band, along with optimised measurement sensitivity by incorporating CMOS semiconductors into a single chip for millimetre-wave radar.

This level of increased sensitivity does not only affect its wave radar signals, but it also raises finer resolution in the distance direction of the measurement range.

Upgrading the device

These recent changes also provide the precise separation of the noise that would otherwise affect the estimation accuracy of the heartbeat interval. This then simultaneously measures the heartbeat intervals of a number of people using a single radar.

By combining the sensor and a radar with signal analysis algorithms, the tool is able to measure how the body moves as the heart beats. As our body movements differ significantly,  Panasonic and Kyoto University built software that filters only the heart's minute motions.

"Measuring respiration and heart rate -- without attaching cumbersome wires to the body -- will greatly benefit modern medicine and home healthcare,"​ noted Toru Sato, Lead Researcher and Kyoto University Professor of communications and computer engineering.

"Moreover, it will reduce stress by not subjecting the individual to a feeling of being monitored,"​ Sato added.

“The device now utilises the 79 GHz frequency band, instead of the previous 60 GHz”​, Sato went on to say, along with “incorporating CMOS semiconductors”​.

Real-time monitoring

“As a result, range and resolution improved, and it's now only about one-tenth the size — as big as a smoke detector,"​ continued Sato.

With its new frequency band, the sensor can effectively measure the heart rates of multiple individuals in the same room, when they are separated by as small a distance as 7.5 cm.

By enabling real-time simultaneous heartbeat measurement, the duo believes that the improved specification will allow sensors such as lighting to be used in at-home appliances that “safely monitor”​ consumers in the household.

"This technology holds great promise for the future development of devices to monitor health remotely,"​ concluded Sato. "We are currently considering test sites for observing the multiple applications of our sensor."

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