The applications of modern radar are many and shape our daily lives in ways that are not always obvious. The antennas that will give us 5G and 6G internet coverage are electronically scanning antennas. The weather forecasts we consult would not exist without ground and space-based radars. Radars are also finding applications in medicine and emergency management, are an integral part of our cars and are increasingly becoming part of our mobile devices.
The global radar sensor market was valued at $10.63 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $33.14 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 13.1% from 2021 to 2030.
The production of new devices globally will reach 370 million units per year by 2027 mainly driven by increased demand for IoT and smart devices in most geographies. In this context, Ultra Wide Band radars still represent a minority share of the market but will be one of the segments (along with radars for autonomous driving) to grow the most in the coming years.The global radar sensor market was valued at $10.63 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $33.14 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 13.1% from 2021 to 2030.
History of UltraWideBand Technology
Ultra Wide Band (UWB) radars are a special segment in the radar field. They are based, in fact, on a technology initially used for telecommunications. The first contributions to development in the field of UWB began in the late 1960s by various scientists in the US and the Soviet Union. Between the 1970s and 1980s, the first patents appeared, both for medical applications (oscilloscopes) and for telecommunications (Gerald F. Ross, 17 April 1973), but it was in the 1990s that the real breakthrough came. In 1994 came the first UWB radar operating at very low power, compact and inexpensive, the MIR (Micropower Impulse Radar, McEwan).
The device was a ‘microradar throat microphone’, a microphone that monitored the movement of the vocal cords by means of the UWB radar and produced sounds. Since then, the term ultra wideband (used as we know it since 1989, before that the technology was known as pulse radio) has been used to define applications in the fields of military radar, medicine and communications. However, it was not until 2002 that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) authorised the use of UWB systems in the radar field, giving way to the first commercial applications, which, however, focused on location services based on RTLS technology.
Now that IOT and consumer devices have evolved and are starting to integrate UWB technologies within them, this area of technology is experiencing renewed interest related to the precision and low power consumption that UWB devices can provide.
The main technological challenges that do not yet allow a massive deployment of this technology are miniaturisation, precision and the development of software systems capable of exploiting the technology.
From a market point of view, UWB chipsets generated a total market of USD 500 million in 2021 and are expected to break through the USD 1 billion mark in 2028 with an estimated growth of 21% per year between 2021 and 2028.
To date, most UWB projects and instruments are mainly based on RTLS (Real Time Locating System) technologies, which are the ones that have attracted the most investment in recent decades. To work properly, however, RTLS needs a transmitter and a receiver of the signal also on the object to be monitored. The main example of UWB RTLS technology is AirTag, a tracking device developed and launched by Apple in 2021, powered by a U1 UWB chip. On the other hand, the great innovation promised in UWB radar is that any kind of object or element can be tracked without the implementation of any kind of tracking device on the object to be tracked. If, to date, the non-military sectors that have benefited from UWB innovations are in imaging, communications and location-based services, it is expected that in the coming years there will be a real boom for applications in the IOT, automotive, security, healthcare, sectors that will drive innovation and penetration of these devices.Now that IOT and consumer devices have evolved and are starting to integrate UWB technologies within them, this area of technology is experiencing renewed interest related to the precision and low power consumption that UWB devices can provide.
Main applications: Consumer Electronics, Automotive, Healthcare
Below is a further breakdown of the market numbers estimated by analysts for the target applications that will most drive the growth of the UWB radar device market:
- Consumer Electronics: UWB radars could be used for the improvement and implementation of gesture recognition on devices such as smart TVs and Laptops. UWB radar technologies, in fact, have the potential to make hand gesture recognition possible even at a distance of metres when combined with artificial intelligence algorithms. As is well known, this is a very large market globally, controlled by a few large companies and growing at around 10% per year.
- Smart Building: Numerous applications for indoor presence detection have already been imagined in this field, which opens up numerous opportunities for space automation, increased security and energy management in domestic, public and commercial environments. The smart buildings market is expected to grow at a rate of 22% per year between 2021 and 2029.
- Automotive: The increasing development of safety regulations is leading to the discussion of new systems to be installed in all cars inside the passenger compartment. The first area being discussed within European road safety bodies is child detection. For this application, ultrawideband radars might be the best option as they cannot fail detection due to their accuracy and penetration of objects.
- Healthcare: The health care field is particularly interesting because of the enormous developments that UWB radar technologies are proving to bring in the monitoring of vital parameters. In fact, UWB radars are so accurate that they can monitor heartbeat and respiratory rate. This application provides the opportunity for the first time to monitor health status remotely, without having to wear or touch any device.A success story in this field is the Canadian start-up Xandar Kardian, which was the first Canadian company to obtain FDA Class 2 certification for a medical device that can detect vital parameters up to 15 metres away.Xandar Kardian is a start-up that has been growing since 2019 by financing itself with Venture Capital rounds and will soon be on the market with devices based on technology developed by Cover Sistemi.