THE FUTURE REQUIRES DIFFERENT.
– Christopher Lochhead
Our now CEO left his career as a PhD radar professor at the University of Kansas after realizing how overcomplicated and dangerous his radar research was.
In order for him to do research in Antarctica, he needed to rent a C-5 with a giant radar strapped to it and hire two pilots. Those pilots had to risk their lives just so he could collect some data.
That didn’t fly with him. So he quit his job and formed Ainstein.
What started as developing sensing technology for autonomous drones, evolved into something much larger.
Ainstein wanted to enable a drone to autonomously avoid collisions (e.g. power lines, water, trees, buildings, and people) while flying. We achieved that goal. What we uncovered though was a technology so impressive, we knew we needed to think bigger.
This revelation opened a ton of possibilities for different applications, industries, and situations. While all this was happening on our workbench, more bandwidth via the internet continued to become available which helped us further push the boundaries for radar sensors.
A few years ago we were invited to help a large semiconductor and integrated circuits company to enable a way for customers to test out their new 60GHz mmWave radar integrated chipset.
Ainstein was involved in developing an evaluation module so that this technology could be tested and evaluated by electronics companies globally. We showcased the results at CES in 2019.
Since then, we’ve matured the idea and developed our own commercialized product. Our 60GHz Radar Module is FCC Certified to track people indoors, which can be great for applications like Occupancy Detection, Space Utilization, or however you see fit for your IoT project.
Creating intelligent radar solutions for safer driving, flying, working and living became our mantra. Since then, we’ve been on a mission to improve the lives of those around us. From smart cities to building automation, we’re extremely excited to be granted FCC certification for our WAYV Air.
WHY OCCUPANCY DENSITY MATTERS
The simple (albeit awful) answer? COVID-19
As of October 11, 2020 the CDC has reported over 7 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States. The way we work and manage those around us has changed exponentially.
The WAYV Air can be used to monitor whether a room, hall, staircase, restroom, etc is occupied, and accurately detect, find, and display where people are in that space. Imagine a large manufacturing plant or facility that must adhere to 20% capacity requirements.
Yes, you could require every staff member to wear a badge or “click” to check in, but that’s not feasible and mistakes will be made.
What if someone on the 15th floor has severe symptoms?
How do you manage the safest route for that person and what information can you provide to first responders?
Are you currently capable of performing a contact trace?
OUR 60GHZ RADAR IS FCC CERTIFIED to track people indoors, which can be great for applications like OCCUPANCY DETECTION, SPACE UTILIZATION, OR HOWEVER YOU SEE FIT FOR YOUR IOT PROJECT.
Another example… Take a large office building with many different meeting or conference rooms.
Traditionally, the use of these rooms is managed through some sort of calendar system. Such a system assumes that the room is used continuously for the entirety of the time it’s booked for.
It’s not uncommon for a meeting room to be reserved while in reality it is vacant. With a radar-based counting solution, the mobile app could see that the space is not currently being used, and allocate the meeting room to another group that needs it.
Multiple WAYV Air units can be placed in various locations and connected using a single hub. Data from each WAYV Air unit can be transferred to a central location to perform further actions.
For example, in the conference room use case:
- Three WAYV Air modules are placed in three different conference rooms.
- The WAYV Air modules can detect if the conference rooms are occupied.
- The data are processed on individual WAYV Air modules, then transferred via I2C to a Wi-Fi enabled microcontroller.
- The microcontroller can then be connected to Amazon’s Alexa, which can tell the user if a particular conference room is free or occupied
The WAYV Air has already been successfully applied to a number of IoT projects (e.g. restrooms in skyscrapers) to achieve object detection and human activity statistics. Our customers are extremely pleased over the WAYV Air’s accuracy, low cost, low power and easy installation.
In particular, our customers are most pleased with the accuracy of the WAYV Air.
ACCURATE DETECTION WHETHER PEOPLE ARE STATIONARY OR NOT.
7 REASONS TO CONSIDER OUR RADAR SENSORS
- No Camera means no privacy issues
- Ultra-low power consumption. The radiation is only one-tenth of Bluetooth which is harmless to human body
- Long detection distance which is suitable for various installation heights
- The detection range can be set freely, which is suitable for spatial areas of different sizes and shapes
- The WAYV Air is not affected by environmental obstacles, such as smoke, dirt, low light, heat sources, etc.
- No regular maintenance is needed. Updates occur over WiFi
- The device can be easily hidden hidden in wood or plastic ceiling
Our 60GHz Radar is FCC Certified to track people indoors, which can be great for applications like Occupancy Detection, Space Utilization, or however you see fit for your IoT project:
CAMERA VS RADAR
People counting is a relatively mature application, which can be done using several different technologies, the most common of which include video computer vision, infrared, thermal imaging and Wi-Fi.
A critical concern many organizations have with video-based people counting solutions, which often prevents them from deploying, is privacy.
While video-based technologies offer accuracy and efficiency, they come with the inherent downside of privacy and safety concerns due to the availability of personally-identifiable information for specific individuals.
Wi-Fi solutions do not offer an accurate count of every individual in a given space. It’s more of an approximation based on those who are carrying a smartphone connected to the Wi-Fi network.
Statistical methods are then applied to come to a reasonably good estimate as to the number of people moving in and through a space.
Wi-Fi-based people counters are estimates rather than true counts.
These technologies are more limited in their ability to map movements of people in a space. Infrared imaging and thermal imaging are both used for people counting, too. They provide adequate accuracy, but installation and operating costs for both tend to be quite high.
These systems both require large amounts of power and run constantly, which results in high operating costs for continuous monitoring. Radar-based people counting, on the other hand, can save on power costs by triggering counting functions only when an object (a person, in this case) is detected.
We see a better WAYV with our FCC Certified 60GHz Radar however you see fit for your IoT project.
WHY WAYV IS BETTER
The PIR infrared human motion sensor is cheap, but the disadvantage is that it can’t detect stationary people. When the people in the room have limited motion or do not move (e.g. sitting, breastfeeding, playing with their phone), it will cause detection errors.
In addition, large changes to an air conditioner, ventilation fan, and temperature difference between indoor and outdoor rooms can cause false alarms.
Infrared ranging sensors are generally installed above a seating area (e.g. toilet seat) to determine whether someone is occupied by the change of ranging.
The disadvantage of this scheme is that the range is short, the accuracy is low, and the recognition of objects is not accurate.
This is why it is prone to false alarms and the installation height is limited to 2 meters (i.e. 6 1/2 feet).
The single-point ranging laser sensor is a relatively novel sensing method and is similar to the infrared ranging sensor.
It is also installed directly above the sitting area to detect the change in the distance of the obstacle to determine whether it is occupied. The problem of the single-point ranging laser sensor is that the detection range is small and it can only cover an area of a 3-5cm radius circle directly below the sensor. Therefore, when personnel deviates from the outside, the detection will be invalid.
In addition, this will also bring challenges to the actual project layout, because there are usually other facilities such as lights, exhaust fans, etc. above the seating area, resulting in more requirements and restrictions in actual construction.
THE TECHNOLOGY IN A NUT[I.E HARD PLASTIC]SHELL
The 60GHz frequency band has long been underutilized, but offers tremendous potential for developing within-building sensing applications.
It is ideal for building automation applications, as it enables sensors to accurately sense the range, velocity and angle of objects in a space.
The 60GHz band enables expanded use of mmWave technology, while providing high resolution needed for industrial environments.
The 60GHz frequency is a mmWave frequency, which is a general class of technologies that has gained increasing popularity in the past decade. One reason for this growing popularity is due to its short wavelength, which is less able to travel through walls and buildings.
In many technology use cases to date, this has been a disadvantage, as we seek radio signals to travel through walls and buildings for uses like Wi-Fi connectivity.
However, with the proliferation of radio signals flying through our airwaves today, there is an increased desire and need on the part of some users for signals which remain contained to a defined space – and something that 60GHz technologies can help to achieve.
DESIGNING THE MODULE
Designing the module to fit in the limited real estate and the required performance metrics requires special consideration. One of the main goals of the WAYV Air module is to achieve equal resolution in azimuth and elevation planes.
This requires placement of the transmit and receive antennas in distinctive locations which creates a virtual antenna array with an equal number of antennas in both planes.
To achieve a ±90° unambiguous field of view (FOV), the spacing between the four receive antennas was designed to be half wavelength, while the three transmit antennas are separated by a wavelength. This results in a 4×2 grid in both the elevation and azimuth planes.
The patch antennas are designed to be small enough to fit in this spacing and give enough room for the routing. To adhere to the half wavelength spacing for the receive antennas, RX1 and RX4 antennas had to be flipped by 180°.
Designing the patch antenna with this in mind ensures that flipping of the antennas would not cause significant performance variance between each of the four receive antennas.
Another challenge that arises from this placement is the routing, as all four receive antennas and all three transmit antennas had to be length matched, respectively. At mmWave frequencies, long traces with significant curves can degrade the performance of the antennas. As the routing of RX1 and RX4 is quite different from RX2 and RX3, precautions must be taken to ensure the gain and phase are not notably different between each element.