IRC Next Steps Plus : OPERA - Opportunistic Passive Radar for Non-Cooperative Contextual Sensing

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Abstract

Physical activity and behaviour is a very large component in an array of long-term chronic health conditions such as diabetes, dementia, depression, COPD, arthritis and asthma, and the UK currently spends 70% of its entire health and social care budget on these types of conditions. All aspects of self-care, new therapies or management conditions, require novel non-intrusive technologies able to capture the salient data on causes and symptoms over long periods of time.
The OPERA Project - Opportunistic Passive Radar for Non-Cooperative Contextual Sensing - will investigate a new unobtrusive sensing technology for CONTEXUAL SENSING - defined as concurrent physical activity recognition and indoor localisation - to facilitate new applications in e-Healthcare and Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). The OPERA platform will be integrated into the "SPHERE long term behavioural sensing machine" to gather information alongside various other sensors around the home so as to monitor and track the signature movements of people.
The OPERA system will be built around passive sensing technology: a receiver-only radar network that detects the reflections of ambient radio-frequency signals from people - in this case, principally, the WiFi signals in residential environments. These opportunistic signals are transmitted from common household WiFi access points, but also other wireless enabled devices which are becoming part of the Internet of Things (IoT) home ecosystem.
The project will make use of cutting-edge hardware synchronisation techniques, and recent advances in direction finding techniques to enable accurate device-free (non-cooperative) localisation of people. It will also employ the latest ideas in micro-Doppler radar signal processing, bio-mechanical modelling and machine/deep learning for automatic recognition of both everyday activities e.g. tidying and washing-up, to events which require urgent attention such as falling. OPERA is expected to overcome some of the key barriers associated with the state-of-the-art contextual sensing technologies. Most notably non-compliance with wearable devices, especially amongst the elderly, and the invasion of privacy brought about by the intrusive nature of video based technologies.

Planned Impact

UK faces substantial challenges dealing with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, dementia, depression, COPD, arthritis and asthma. Whether seeking to understand the mechanisms, trying to avoid onset, creating new therapies, or supporting self-care of these conditions, we need non-intrusive technologies able to capture salient data on causes and understand symptoms. At the most fundamental level this project aims to understand the potentials of opportunistic sensing technology to address health problems. The proposed research programme is wide ranging covering advanced radar and wireless synchronisation and detection methods, AI / deep learning and statistical signal processing, modelling and activity simulation. There is also a significant systems engineering and embedded processing aspect involved in the device synchronisation work, and developing the in-home activity recognition demonstrator. Outside of the health domain, the technology is also expected to find a set of other applications ranging from everyday pattern of life monitoring to enable intelligent and predictive smart homes and cities, right through to applications in retail shopper tracking, safety and security.
 
Description The OPERA Project - Opportunistic Passive Radar for Non-Cooperative Contextual Sensing -investigates and develops new unobtrusive sensing technologies for CONTEXUAL SENSING - defined as concurrent physical activity recognition and indoor localisation - to facilitate new applications in e-Healthcare and Ambient Assisted Living (AAL). The OPERA platform will be integrated into the "SPHERE long term behavioural sensing machine" to gather information alongside various other sensors around the home so as to monitor and track the signature movements of people.
The OPERA system will be built around passive sensing technology: a receiver-only radar network that detects the reflections of ambient radio-frequency signals from people - in this case the WiFi signals in residential environments. These opportunistic signals are transmitted from common household WiFi access points, but also other wireless enabled devices which are becoming part of the Internet of Things (IoT) home ecosystem.
The project will make use of cutting-edge hardware synchronisation techniques, and recent advances in direction finding and ranging techniques to enable accurate device-free (non-cooperative) localisation of people. It will also employ the latest ideas in micro-Doppler radar signal processing, bio-mechanical modelling and machine/deep learning for automatic recognition of both everyday activities e.g. tidying and washing-up, to events which require urgent attention such as falling. OPERA is expected to overcome some of the key barriers associated with the state-of-the-art contextual sensing technologies. Most notably non-compliance with wearable devices, especially amongst the elderly, and the invasion of privacy brought about by the intrusive nature of video-based technologies.
The project is still at an early stage; however, many original hypotheses have been verified as correct. The first 4 peer-reviewed publications from the project have shown that opportunistic WiFi radar systems can be a credible addition to residential sensing systems for eHealth applications.
Exploitation Route Opportunistic use of WiFi signals is being already recognised by the industry as a means to achieve value-added services. The first domestic mesh WiFi routers with "presence" security functions are about to enter the market. Such systems will offer relatively simple binary decisions on possible physical activity in a house (presence detected / not detected). Such a system can be viewed as offering the same functionality as a bespoke security sensor network-based on PIR sensing (but without the need for additional infrastructure/installation costs, calibration, maintenance etc ). OPERA will show how this concept can be lifted to another level: from binary presence sensing to physical activity recognition.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare

 
Description ACM HotMobile 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presented on-going work related to the MOA project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL http://www.hotmobile.org/2020/
 
Description MLSys 2020 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact We presented our latest results for MOA to the MLSys audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://mlsys.org/
 
Description Presentation of work at post-accelerator for start-up tech businesses 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Presentation at IDEALondon's Machine Learning academy. IDEALondon is a workspace and innovation centre in the heart of Shoreditch. It gives startups the space and support they need to grow - whether it's access to funding, access talent, expert advice from its partners. The presentation led to follow-up networking events which resulted in discussions with Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists who advised on strategies for commercialising the WiFi passive radar technology being developed as part of the research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019