Startup NOVELDA Sets Its Grip On Presence Detection Using UWB Sensor
From awards to funding, Norwegian startup NOVELDA is making waves with its ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for presence sensing.
One of the most important aspects of any reasonable consumer electronic device is the user experience. Put bluntly, even if the technology is excellent, a consumer device is worthless if the user can’t figure out how to use it.
From a hardware perspective, a good user experience requires the ability to detect and understand the presence of a user.
A Venn diagram showing the many intersections with UX design. Image used courtesy of Mingda and Prototypr.io
One company making noise thanks to its human presence detection hardware is NOVELDA, a Norwegian startup focusing on UWB technology.
In this article, we’ll look at NOVELDA and what we know about its technology.
Use Cases for Presence Detection
One crucial and often forgotten aspect of electronic device design is how a user interacts with it and how it interacts with its environment.
To this end, NOVELDA believes that presence detection is an invaluable ability for any device, whether consumer electronics, building automation, or smart home.
A high-level representation of how a laptop could use presence detection to "wake up." Image used courtesy of NOVELDA
In the case of a consumer device, like a laptop, NOVELDA argues that detecting human presence can provide improved security, power savings, and interaction with the device.
As a testament to this, Lenovo recently partnered with NOVELDA to integrate its presence sensors into its ThinkPad X1 Nano laptops.
In these laptops, the NOVELDA’s sensors are leveraged to detect human presence, wake the computer up, prevent it from shutting off, and lock the screen in the absence of the user.
Alternatively, NOVELDA argues that detecting human presence is equally as important in an application like building automation.
For example, with reliable and sophisticated human presence detection, building automation hardware may be able to automatically control lighting, temperature, and ventilation in the building. This advancement not only leads to smarter, more occupant-friendly buildings, but it could also help save energy and money by turning off appliances in the absence of occupants.
NOVELDA’s UWB Sensor
While a whitepaper or other explicit technical documentation doesn’t seem to exist on NOVELDA’s technology, we can at least talk about what we do know. NOVELDA is known for its unique and innovative UWB presence detection sensors.
Its main flagship product is its short-range impulse radar transceiver system-on-a-chip (SoC) called True Presence.
NOVELDA’s UWB presence detection sensor. Image used courtesy of NOVELDA
Coming in a 12 mm x 12 mm footprint, NOVELDA’s UWB SoC works by detecting tiny, otherwise imperceptible, movements that a human makes when sitting still (i.e., breathing, slight shifts) to perceive a human’s presence.
This ability is contrasted with most presence sensors today which are based on passive infrared radiation (PIR), ultrasound, or microwave detection, all of which are typically not sensitive enough to pick up on movements as small as breathing.
According to NOVELDA, its UWB sensor, which won a 2021 award for best sensor technology, is the most accurate and sensitive impulse radar sensor available, capable of detecting a person breathing up to 10 m away.
At the same time, its sensors achieve power consumptions less than 2 mW and an accurate detection zone with up to a 180-degree field of view (FOV).
NOVELDA Will Keep Making Waves
More detailed information on NOVELDA’s technology is hard to find; however, its accolades speak for themselves. Between partnerships with Lenovo, awards for its technology, and a new round of funding worth ~45M USD, clearly its UWB technology shows significant promise.
With the new year upon us, it will be interesting to see what NOVELDA's UWB technology could bring to the future.
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