Dr. Eva Maria Buchkremer, Head of Product Management, InnoSenT talks exclusively to Security Buyer about the ins and outs of radar technology
Since product management was established at InnoSenT in 2018, Dr. Eva Maria Buchkremer has an important role within the company. She is the contact person for innovation projects in the field of industrial radar sensors and has been pushing the product development. She is the interface between the market and R&D. She identifies unsolved customer problems, picks up on trends and specifies requirement specifications for product innovations in coordination with the radar experts.
She is genuinely interested in identifying and satisfying customer needs. With her strong scientific background as a doctor of natural sciences, she was trained to collect and cross-link information, stay open-minded and adaptable and find creative and innovative solutions.She started her career in the medical technology field, always in positions that strived for a strategic approach. As Head of Product Management, she now rethinks radar technology for an ever-widening field of applications. She defines future product strategies and aligns the current portfolio with customer needs and market interests.
What are the benefits of radar technology?
Like any other technology, radar has strengths and weaknesses. The benefits of radar technology are:
- a high robustness in harsh environments – radar can therefore be used in indoor and outdoor environments
- the ability to measure several parameters (velocity, distance, angle of arrival, signal strength) – radar can therefore be used for applications varying from level measurement where only the distance to the substrate is determined up to complex scenarios like intersection management where the vehicle class, localization and trajectory of many road users are determined
- radar penetrates some materials and the sensors can therefore be hidden behind coverings – this is an advantage when vandalism or design factors play a role in the application
- radar is a contact-free technology – this is an advantage in any application where hygienic aspects are important
Could you explain a little bit about how radar works?
Radar devices use electromagnetic waves to locate objects within their field of view. A radar antenna actively sends a signal which travels by the speed of light in a defined direction. As soon as the signal encounters an object, the radar wave is reflected and part of the energy bounces back. If the distance between the antenna and the object changes, the receiving antenna notices a change in frequency, called Doppler shift. The magnitude of the differences between emitted and received radar signal and the travel time give information about the speed of and distance to the object.
Radar can be used for many different industry verticals, which tends to be the most popular and why?
Radar is an established technology in applications such as door opening, escalator control, speed signs and movement detectors. It offers a contact-free technology, delivers all data needed to solve these applications and works under outdoor conditions.
In security applications, depending on the needs, simple radar motion detectors are used or more complex radar sensors for localizing and tracking people.
The fusion with a second technology is becoming more popular. Radar offers benefits that are complementary especially to PIR sensors and cameras. A fusion thus enables new functions such as focusing the camera on an object by using the distance information of the radar or compensating the bad performance of PIR when the object is moving towards the sensor – radar is especially good in detecting movement that is headed towards the sensor.
A vertical that is becoming more important for radar is the wide field of robotics. There is a rising demand for sensors in this industry in order to facilitate autonomous driving and enhance the safety of machinery.
How has Covid-19 enhanced the need for perimeter protection, especially at sites where security is accessed remotely?
Covid-19 presents us many new challenges in our private and work environment. The changes caused by the pandemic call for completely new technical solutions such as sensors for contactless operation, the development of it is now gaining momentum.
Due to the pandemic measures, many are working from home. The office buildings or company premises are abandoned and, this also applies to the security staff, only minimally manned. So it seems logical that the demand for perimeter protection will increase. The technology must of course be extremely reliable if no one is checking the situation on-site or is following a live video stream remotely.
We guess that this will increase the interest in high-end systems enormously and promote innovation. But the variety of products for perimeter protection is also expected to increase due to increased use. Every location has different requirements and customers want the ideal security solution for a wide variety of applications. Customizability and different ranges are required in order to increase efficiency and reduce false alarms.
What type of data can be gathered from radar sensors in particular?
With radar you can determine the speed, movement direction, distance and angle of moving or stationary objects. So with advanced radar technology it is possible to detect the presence, localize their position in a 3D-environment and follow the movement of objects with tracking algorithms.
How do you stay innovative in a continuously evolving industry?
For new products, we strongly focus on unsolved problems in the market and work towards solving these. Our aim is to provide prototypes rapidly so we can involve our customers in the development at an early stage.
Where do you see the future for radar technology going?
The broadening use of MIMO technology and the opening of new frequency bands with higher bandwidths increases the resolution capabilities of radar and thus opens up new application spectrums and markets for radar technology.
Safety-relevant applications benefit from the robustness of radar technology and thus harsh environments can be equipped with safety systems based on radar. In other applications such as alarm systems or autonomous driving, the fusion of technologies that compensate each other’s weaknesses is most promising.
Because of its industrialisation, radar sensors are becoming less expensive and thus have a high potential to compete with other technologies such as cameras and lasers.
More Safety with Motion detection 2.0
Simple security solutions such as motion detectors are effective. They drive away intruders with light and acoustic signals. But outdoors are numerous influencing factors that can push technology to its limits. From the weather to poor lighting conditions: Sensors must be reliable, robust and work efficiently without restriction.
So the industry increasingly trusts on radar products even for simple motion detection. The technology works regardless of the weather, light conditions or extreme temperatures and detects people despite heat-insulating clothing or camouflage.
InnoSenT developed the next generation of radar motion detection. The IMD-2000 is a low-cost radar solution that offers more functions: It also determines distance information. This makes it possible to limit the range and adapt it to the local situation. The unwanted detection of passing cars on the neighbouring street can be avoided.
In order to make radar detection even more efficient, InnoSenT integrated filter functions. By setting the sensitivity, for example, movements of small animals can be masked out. The sensor also ignores wind movements from bushes or trees. In addition, the radar determines the direction of movement and the estimated time of arrival.
Compared to classic motion detectors, the IMD-2000 provides the user with additional information for security monitoring. In this way, the determined data is used in order to optimally adapt the detection to the individual application situation. The extended functions of the sensor significantly improve the performance of the motion detection.
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Rebecca Morpeth Spayne,
Editor, Security Portfolio
Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922