i3 | January 18, 2022

A New Innovation in Consumer Radar

Kerrianne Haresign

Recent tech advances have made radar smaller, cheaper and lower power.

Historically, radar hardware and software has been developed for one application at a time, such as a speed radar gun or air traffic control. This means that all product solutions — from the hardware to the final user experience — are bespoke. Because technological advances have made radar smaller, less expensive and lower power, this has allowed radar to become a general embeddable sensor across a variety of hardware for consumer, industrial, automotive and medical applications.

In early 2021, CTA formed the Radar API Technology Project Group to accelerate the growth of low power general purpose radar. The group has been working to enable general purpose radar interoperability by developing both specifications for software APIs, and an action plan to drive industry adoption. The Radar API Technology Project Group is launching its first version of the API at CES 2022.

A general-purpose radar API has many benefits, including:

New products and services for consumers

Radar enables features like remote vital measures; detection of unusual inactivity in a home, which can be a sign that someone needs help; nonverbal gesture recognition on devices like changing the song on your phone with a hand wave; and hands-free operation of things like car doors. These sorts of features help people live safer, healthier and happier lives.

New software libraries for radar developers

Developing applications that use low-power radar is very difficult and requires special knowledge. Development of software libraries is hindered by the large number of radar architectures that are incompatible with one another. Software developers are reluctant to invest money and time into the development of software if there is no assurance of reusability. A standardized general purpose radar API helps provide some assurance that software can be reused in other applications.

Growth of hardware radar ecosystems/integrators

General purpose radar solutions have been slow to take off in the marketplace because many hardware integrators or distributors do not have the knowledge needed to develop and distribute radar solutions. Standardized solutions should make it easier for them.

The Radar API Technology Project Group is launching its first version of the API at CES 2022.

Opportunities to innovate and differentiate with extensions

The standard will reduce barriers to innovation by establishing industry best practices for the technology. Subsequently, the API will enable developers to create specialized extensions so that they can build upon the standard to support their own differentiated use cases. These extensions could then be incorporated as official interfaces in future updated versions of the standard.

Education and academic research

Standardized software that works across all radar applications can simplify experimentation and prototyping; making radar more accessible to students, startups, academics, and researchers.

CTA’s work on general purpose radar will continue well beyond CES. The Radar API Technology Project Group anticipates expanding the API to include additional radar waveforms and expanded features. If you wish to learn more about this work or get involved, please contact standards@cta.tech.

i3 magazine January/February 2022 cover

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