Imec’s mm Wave Motion Sensing Technology

Blyler:Hi – This is John Blyler. I’m the Chief
Content Officer at Extension Media. Today I’m at the beautiful Imec campus in Leuven,
Belgium. I have the please of talking to Liesbet Van der Perre. I won’t say that again. (smiling)
What is your title? Perre: I’m the Wireless Program Director here
at Imec and I’m also a part-time professor at the University of Leuven. Blyler: Smart gal! I have a few simple questions
for you. You’ve talked about many things, but one in particular was the millimeter (mm)
wave sensing at 79 GHz. Why is that becoming important? Perre: We think that it’s a great technology
for motion sensing and also for doing a lot of safety systems and other systems. It opens
new applications because of the high frequency of mm waves allows very good resolution and
high precision. So there are lots of applications that could use this kind of precision. Also,
mm wave technology could be use in application that won’t work for cameras because you don’t
need to have visible light. Instead, you go through fog, through lots of circumstances
such as in darkness. So we think for motion sensing at high precision that this could
be a very good technology. Blyler: I remember cars using infrared technology
to spot moving objects in front of them. Will mm wave have similar applications in automotive? Perre: I think it could be complementary to
this. For example, in the car situation or transport system, you could do detection of
pedestrians. It can really help in avoiding lots of accidents with people involved. I
think specifically, well, for those situations where infrared can not work, radio waves are
just a bit more versatile. It (radio wave technology) could help a lot. Blyler: Some of the challenges must be things
like power and perhaps cost. Perre. Yes, definitely. Of course, that is
the major thing to solve. There the fact that today we can try to do this in pure, vanilla
digital CMOS can help out. So, we are trying to work on solutions that can be done in CMOS.
And that will allow, if we scale it well in big volumes, to be a really low cost and low
power, to be a technology that is accessible to lots of people and applications. Blyler: Fascinating. Very interesting. One
of the things we had talked about at the dinner last night was the interconnect issue. Apparently,
this (mm wave technology) works best if it is near the antenna. That brings up issues
of maybe 3D stacking that is eventually coming. Perre: One of the challenges we have with
mm wave is that the losses on interconnects and on wires are very high. So you need to
get everything as close to each other as possible. On the other hand, the good thing is that
the antennas at these very high (77-79 GHz) frequencies can be made very, very small.
So you can really think of a system where the antenna and the chip are very highly integrated
in a 3D fashion or maybe integrating chips with antennas on top of the chips. So we are
exploring lots of these options. It is going to give nice systems, we hope. Blyler: Thank you for taking the time (to
talk). Perre: Thank you.

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