KAUST Visiting Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering, Dr. Tareq Al-Naffouri, KAUST post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Tarig Ballal and KAUST Ph.D. student Furrukh Sana are working to develop a handheld device that cost-effectively utilizes a low sampling rate of ultra-wideband (UWB) signals to detect respiratory movement. UWB is a radio technology. Al-Naffouri is also an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM).
According to Al-Naffouri, technology works in a way similar to how radar is used to track airplanes.
"To track the movement of a plane with radar, a pulse is sent out by a transmitter. Then the receiver waits to hear the pulse reflection or echo. If there is no reflection, then it means there is nothing flying. But if there is a reflection, then it's clear that there is an object in the sky," explained Al-Naffouri. "The radar sends a pulse, you wait and then the reflection comes back one second later. Then you send a second pulse and the reflection comes back two seconds later. In this way, you are able to track the movement of the plane. We are doing the same thing with our ultra-wideband technology. Our device will send a pulse and that pulse will reflect off the chest of the person. Because the chest is moving, the timing of the reflected pulses will keep on changing. By tracking this timing variation, we can reconstruct the movements related to a person's breathing.