Contactless health monitoring

Respiration pauses during sleep, critical vital parameters of an infant or the necessary monitoring of respiration and heart rate in the intensive care unit and in nursing: There are many good reasons for recording vital data. One solution is contactless monitoring using radar. By using a non-contact device, one reduces the effort compared to contact-based sensors. There is no need to disinfect, attach or make necessary adjustments to the sensors - just as there is no need for constant pressure on the body. A radar measures vital and movement parameters of the human body without contact and is therefore particularly suitable for monitoring over longer periods of time. The special feature at Fraunhofer IDMT: When the sensor is positioned laterally relative to the person, individual body sections can be examined independently to record vital parameters. This means that respiratory movements on the torso and pulse movements on the legs, for example, can be recorded separately. Subsequent separation by complex evaluation procedures is not necessary. This is interesting, for example, for the detection of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or sleep apnea, in which abdominal and thoracic breathing can be asynchronous. Limb movements can also be recorded.

In the REMUS project ("Respiration Measurement Using Sensors"), the initial focus was on detecting respiration using radar. Following the project duration, the technology was further developed in such a way that other vital parameters can now be detected by the targeted positioning of the radar. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft has applied for a patent for the described method (patent number: 102022208945.6).

Our services

  • Contactless recording of limb, respiratory and pulse movements based on novel evaluation algorithms
  • Cross-industry application: automotive/autonomous driving, sleep monitoring, nursing, intensive care medicine
  • Synchronous measurement of additional sensors such as EEG and audio

Monitoring of vital data for the automotive sector

© Adobe Stock/pikselstock
© Adobe Stock/Sondem

Radar is already being used successfully in the automotive sector. Together with lidar and camera, it forms the basis for modern driver assistance systems. For autonomous driving, radar is known for monitoring outside the vehicle. But the vehicle interior also offers various application possibilities.

In the future, as soon as the assistance systems reach their limits, radar will be used to quickly determine whether the driver is ready to take the wheel again. Fraunhofer IDMT are already planning test measurements for the use of radar vital sign detection in vehicles for people in a seated position in order to monitor the vital parameters of the driver, e. g. for professional drivers or, in perspective, in autonomous vehicles. In the future, this should make it possible to assess the driver's condition quickly and robustly. For this application, it is conceivable to position the radar in the vehicle ceiling.

After just a few minutes in a closed car in the sun, the situation can become life-threatening for children and animals. Young children are particularly vulnerable to heat, as they sweat less than adults. The radar can be used to detect more than just the driver's vital signs. The pulse and movement measurements can also detect the presence of children or animals in vehicles. This is therefore of particular interest to the automotive industry.

Intelligent sensor technology in medical application areas

© Fraunhofer IDMT/Anika Bödecker

Most of the time, breathing is not continuously monitored in nursing or in hospital, especially during sleep. As a result, a change for the worse in the patient's condition is noticed late. Continuous recording of respiratory parameters with discret, external sensors can be a solution. The recorded respiratory data provide information about the general state of health and can be used for an early alarm in case of deterioration. The measurement is enabled by a radar that measures without contact and is therefore particularly user-friendly and hygienic.

Sleep problems can become a health risk. This is because poor sleep increases the risk of daytime sleepiness. This is especially the case with breathing-related sleep problems, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or sleep apnea. The nocturnal breathing pauses in sleep apnea also carry a high risk of cardiovascular degradations and additional diseases. The contactless respiratory monitoring, developed at the Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA, is aimed at companies in the consumer health sector as well as markets for medical devices for vital data recording. In our Connected Health work area, we develop solutions for health services that can be used flexibly from anywhere and function contactless.

Various neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's or epilepsy, are associated with movement disorders. For example, tremors, persistent muscle tension or balance disorders. These can be depicted in the radar data. Radar technology can also be combined with other solutions, such as mobile EEG systems, to improve the detection of epileptic seizures.

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) refers to the sudden death of a healthy-appearing infant for no known medical reason. The sleeping position on the back, the use of a sleeping bag instead of pillows and blankets and a separate bed ensure a safer sleeping environment for infants. In addition to these preventative measures, the use of a radar to monitor vital functions is also conceivable here. In this way, irregularities in breathing, pulse or an unsafe sleeping position of the child can be identified at an early stage. 

© Fraunhofer IDMT
By positioning the radar from the side, the researchers at Fraunhofer IDMT can collect vital data from the various areas of the body particularly clearly, such as respiratory parameters on the torso and the heart-beat pulse on the legs.
© Fraunhofer IDMT
Raw data of the heartbeat pulse taken from the legs.
© Fraunhofer IDMT
The raw data of breathing taken from the torso e. g. allow conclusions about the state of health.

Further Information


Press Release / 25.9.2023

The whole body on the radar

Fraunhofer IDMT develops recording and analysis methods for the monitoring of vital and motion data via radar.


Press Release / 8.11.2022

The sleep laboratory at home

DGSM 2022: Fraunhofer IDMT presents technologies and methods for mobile sleep monitoring


Data Protection for Biosignals

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Press Release / 16.8.2023

Intelligent acoustic sensor systems for hearing cars

We will provide an insight into current developments at the IAA MOBILITY 2023 in Munich.


Analysis of drivers' attention in autonomous vehicles

Research on changes in vigilance with the help of EEG and other biosignals



Did you sleep well last night? This question concerns everyone, because sleep disorders affect health in the long term. That's why we are working on a multi-sensor system close to the ear that records sleep behavior comfortably at home.


Connected Health

The work area Connected Health dedicates its research and development activities to sensor-based health systems that can be deployed flexibly and without clinical infrastructure.

The Oldenburg Branch for Hearing, Speech and Audio Technology HSA is funded in the program »Vorab« by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture (MWK) and the Volkswagen Foundation for its further development.

Mobile Neurotechnologies

The group »Mobile Neurotechnologies« is working on discreet EEG systems for the analysis of brain activity - e.g. for safe workplace design or for use in health applications.