LLNL Tech Brings Motion Sensors to the Masses

LLNL Tech Brings Motion Sensors to the Masses

LLNL Tech Brings Motion Sensors to the Masses

Micropower impulse radar (MIR), a revolutionary technology developed by Lawrence Livermore National Lab in the 1990’s, is used in a wide number of different everyday applications. MIR is a compact, low-cost, low-power radar used for sensing nearby objects and measuring distances between objects in proximity.  MIR technology is the foundation for many modern applications in the home, transportation, and security industries. 

Today’s vehicles offer safety features based on MIR such as parking assistance, backup warnings, and collision detection/prevention.  In-home applications of MIR can be found in smart devices that automatically turn on/off such as appliances, lights, heaters and tools; stud finders; laser tape measures; and motion sensors for intrusion and perimeter surveillance. Search and rescue applications make use of MIR as well by allowing the detection of a beating heart or respiration from a distance and industrial applications use MIR to measure fluid levels inside harsh environments like gas and oil tanks. 

Radar, or radio detection and ranging, first developed in the 1920’s by the military and then adopted for civilian applications – most notably weather tracking - locates and tracks objects at distances of tens to hundreds of miles. MIR uses very short electromagnetic pulses, as opposed to continuous waves in bursts used in conventional radar. LLNL’s MIR palm-sized invention costs about $10 and runs on AAA batteries; versus a non-portable conventional radar which costs about $40,000. License agreements between LLNL and a number of technology companies have commercialized MIR for these home and many other industrial applications.