SafeScan wall penetrating radar technology.

Iceni Labs is hoping to develop its SafeScan wall penetrating radar technology to Technology Readiness Level-7, the company has told Armada.

SafeScan is prototype handheld radar transmitting in a seven gigahertz to nine gigahertz waveband. It can penetrate walls enabling the user to see activity on the other side. The ruggedised radar weighs under 700 grams (1.5 pounds) and was originally developed for medical applications Alexander Giles, the company’s chief commercial officer, told Armada.

Sleep Research

The radar was realised in partnership with the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge, eastern England, to support sleep research. Specifically, SafeScan was designed to monitor breathing remotely with prototypes planned to be deployed into care homes in the UK to help monitor patients’ respiration during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Giles says that the innovations the firm pioneered in the health sector have transitioned into the defence realm. He continues that the radar can determine that a breathing person is behind a wall or obstacle and discriminate other moving objects such as a slamming door, for example.

The radar is ready for use in a matter of seconds and has sufficient battery power for eight hours’ continuous operation. Radar pictures can be wirelessly streamed via Bluetooth onto a smartphone or viewed on a rugged device such as a tablet or laptop via a cable.

It is not necessary to hold the radar flush to a wall or object to detect people on the other side, Mr. Giles adds. He says that people can still be detected at ranges of up to 20 feet (6.1 metres), although he cautions that this is dependent on the material used for the construction of the obstacle or wall. Three sensors can be used to triangulate the exact position of a person, or several people, inside a room.

Into Production

Iceni Labs was awarded a grant via the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) scheme. This aims to help companies evolve technologies with potential defence applications. SafeScan has been demonstrated to army personnel from undisclosed North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries who have had the opportunity to use the equipment during urban combat exercises.

Mr Giles says that the DASA funding will conclude this April by which time he is confident that the prototype SafeScan will have reached Technology Readiness Level-7. According to US Department of Defence criteria this means that the prototype will have been successfully demonstrated in an operational environment. Mr. Giles adds that production of SafeScan radars could commence thereafter, pending additional funding.

by Dr. Thomas Withington