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Non-contact vital sign sensing

The next step in continuous health monitoring is the invisible integration of vital sign sensors in our environment. Imec researches the use of capacitive sensors and 140 GHz radar to make that happen.

We’re increasingly familiar with continuous vital sign sensing. Its benefits are obvious: a more comprehensive view of someone’s health and the possibility of ambulatory monitoring.

The main enablers of this trend have been the recent breakthroughs in wearable technologies. Thanks to advancements in nano- and digital technology, we’re now able to develop small, low-power devices that can be comfortably worn for days at a time.

Meanwhile, those same advancements in chip technology are driving the next wave of continuous monitoring, eliminating the need for a physical connection with the human body altogether.

Imec is in the process of developing this truly unobtrusive vital sensing technology with a range of medical and non-medical applications.

Join our research

Non-contact sensing technologies

Currently, we’re looking into two technologies for non-contact vital sign monitoring:

  1. Capacitive sensors are able to carry out ECG readings and detect respiration rates through clothing. They’re equipped with smart algorithms which ensure reliable readings by compensating for variations due to movements or artifacts.
  2. 140 GHz radar chips – also used for gesture recognition - can detect heartbeat and respiration from a considerable distance. Because they’re tiny and low-cost, it’s easy to unobtrusively embed them in our surroundings.

Check out our patent portfolio.

Applications of unobtrusive health monitoring

Non-contact vital sign sensors have a lot of applications in cases where strapping on wearables is too cumbersome or simply impossible. A few examples:

  • Radar chips in the dashboard and capacitive sensors in the car seat are able to check driver alertness.
  • In elderly care, non-obtrusive sensors can help to assist nursing staff, particularly when a patient resides at home.
  • In demanding work environments, non-contact sensors can have a preventive function – for instance stress monitoring.

Want to join our research? Need an experienced partner to speed up your development?

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Related clinical areas

Sleep monitoring technology
Sleep should be a time of supreme comfort. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to doze under a blanket of sensors and wires. Start from imec’s sensing technology to make sleep monitoring less burdensome for patients and more cost-effective for caregivers.
Vital sign monitoring
A comprehensive view of someone’s health can’t really be established in a doctor’s office. That’s why imec develops technologies that pave the way toward clinical-grade devices for ambulatory, unobtrusive health monitoring.
Technology for respiratory care
For someone with a pulmonary condition, breathing can be a constant struggle that needs to be closely managed. That’s why imec develops technologies that allow for non-obtrusive and continuous respiratory monitoring.
Pain and stress monitoring
Feelings such as pain and stress do not only reside in people’s minds. They manifest themselves through physiological signals. Using wearable technologies, you can leverage these signals to improve research and treatments.
Technologies for gastroenterology and precision nutrition
Join imec’s research into non-contact and ingestible technologies to gain insight into digestive processes and enable personalized diets.

Other technologies

Innovative algorithms for actionable insights
Turn raw health data into actionable insights with algorithms optimized for your connected health device.
Dry EEG electrodes
Dry electrodes are opening up new directions in EEG and other biotechnology applications. To ensure they provide maximum comfort and signal quality, imec works together with Datwyler.
Systems-on-chip for medical sensor devices
An electronic device that’s comfortably connected to the human body needs to be as compact as possible. That’s why imec’s assists you in the development of biomedical systems-on-chip that strive for an unparalleled integration of essential functions, while maintaining medical-grade fidelity.
Implantable devices
Small, smart and Connected. Technologies for the next generation of implantable devices.

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