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Reimagining Radar in the Form of High-Resolution 4D Sensing Systems

I know lots of engineers who could engineer me under the table, as it were. Hmmm, sometimes I read what I just wrote, and I think, “I wonder if anyone understands the meaning I’m attempting to impart,” like the “under the table” portion of the previous sentence, for example.

Well, fear not, because I am ever eager to waffle. Have you ever heard an expression along the lines of drinking someone under the table? The idea is that the person in question can hold their alcohol better than their competitive companion, who ends up passed out under the table.

There’s an interesting discussion on this topic on Stack Exchange in which we learn that, as far back as 1628, prominent Puritan William Prynne penned a note about the Germans saying “They Carrouze, and Health, and Drinke so long, till they haue laid one another dead drunke vnder the Table.” I have to say that this doesn’t remind me of any of the Germans I know (seriously, I have to say this, however true it may be, otherwise they will be cross with me).

As an aside (you knew one was coming), this reminds me of the American poet, writer, critic, wit, and satirist, Dorathy Parker, who famously wrote: 

I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I’m under the table,
After four I’m under my host.

You might be thinking that, in my opening sentence to this column, I could have simply replaced “who could engineer me under the table” with “who are much better than me,” but then you wouldn’t be ensconced in your seat wondering whether or not you wanted to be thinking about what I just told you. It’s just one more service I offer. You’re welcome.

Where were we? Oh yes, talking about engineers who are better at engineering than your humble narrator. Many of these stalwarts are experts at some arcane branch of the engineering art, indispensable to their teams and companies. It must be acknowledged, however, that a large proportion have a hint of a sniff of a whiff of the introvert about them. The thought of standing up in front of an audience presenting a paper at a technical conference would result in them stocking up on emergency supplies (sodas and potato chips) and barricading themselves inside their cubicles. By comparison, much like my dear old mom, the real trick is to get me to stop talking.

As a result, I’ve been fortunate to traverse the world, speaking at conferences and giving guest lectures at universities, all on someone else’s dime (“It really is the only way to travel, my dear!”)

One of the countries I’ve been lucky enough to visit is Korea. By this I mean South Korea. I wouldn’t be seen dead in North Korea. I take that back. If I were foolish enough to visit North Korea, there’s every chance I would end up being seen dead.

I really enjoyed my visits to South Korea. The people I met were awesome, and I’m drooling with desire at the thought of the food (I remember with particular fondness my visit to the Kimchi Museum in Seoul).

More recently, I’ve become a fan of South Korean television programs on Netflix, from Squid Game to Sweet Home to Extraordinary Attorney Woo, the latter of which left me with an insatiable desire for gimbap (Korean sushi). My wife (Gigi the Gorgeous) and I opted to watch Extraordinary Attorney Woo with the original Korean soundtrack and English subtitles. Why? Well, neither of us can read Korean. Oh, you mean “Why listen to it in Korean?” All I can say is that it somehow worked better for us this way.

Where am I going with all this? I’m starting to wonder, myself. Oh, yes, I remember now. South Korea is a powerhouse in high-technology markets, including semiconductors, displays, future vehicles (hybrid electric vehicles, battery hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell electric vehicles), robotics, and biotechnology. Earlier this year, for example, South Korea announced a two-decade, $470 billion investment plan to create the world’s biggest semiconductor chipmaking center.

Whenever one is nattering about technology topics, it’s always tempting to focus on the big players. In the case of South Korea, these would be household names like Samsung Electronics (silicon chips, smartphones, and consumer electronics), LG Electronics (appliances), and SK Hynix (one of the world’s largest chipmakers). Although not a household name outside of South Korea, I also want to give a nod to Woowa Brothers (smartphone apps) because I like saying “Woowa Brothers.”

While these corporate behemoths are, of course, tremendously significant, it’s also important to remember that, for each humongous enterprise, there are hundreds or thousands of smaller players. A great thing about being small, mean, and lean is that you can respond to your customer’s requirements before the bigger companies have even noticed that a customer is standing in the lobby waving fistfuls of money around.

For example, I recently wrote about a small South Korean foundry called Synchrolox, which can be up and running within a week of receiving a purchase order (see Want to Create Silicon Chips? Want Them Fast? Want them Cheap?). Following that column, the Founder and Director of Research and Business Development at Synchrolox, Phil Yoon, emailed me to say that several interested companies had contacted him because of my writings. Wow! I wasn’t sure anyone (other than my mom) was even reading my columns.

As another example, I was just chatting with Jae-Eun Lee, who is the Co-Founder and CEO at another small South Korean company called bitsensing. This feisty group is on a mission to reimagine radar in the form of high-resolution 4D sensing systems. What does 4D mean in this context? Well, in addition to high-resolution X (horizontal), Y (vertical) and Z (depth), we also have V (velocity).

Just to provide some background, Jae-Eun has a Master’s degree in Electronic Engineering from POSTECH and a PhD in Electrical Engineering from Seoul National University. Before founding bitsensing, he was the Senior Research Engineer at Mando Corporation, which is one of the largest global Tier 1 OEM and supplier of automotive components to companies such as GM, Ford, BMW, Hyundai, KIA and others. While at Mando Corporation, he pioneered 77GHz radar in South Korea and successfully led it to mass production.

Jae-Eun says he was motivated to found bitsensing when heavy fog and low visibility caused a devastating pileup involving more than 100 vehicles on the Yeongjong Bridge in Incheon, leading to multiple deaths and serious injuries. Jae-Eun’s original thought was to develop a 4D imaging radar solution that could transform things like Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems (ADAS) for Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), Forward Collision Warnings (FCW), and Blind Spot Detection (BSD).

At the heart of the system is bitsensing’s custom-designed chip that supports 3 TX (transmitter) and 4 RX (receive) channels. Four of these chips can be arrayed together to give 12 TX and 16 RX channels, which equates to a virtual array of 192 channels. The result is a 120° Field-of-View (FoV) with a range of 300 meters and an angular resolution of 1.5° (Jae-Eun says they are working on improving the angular resolution). The bitsensing team also design the antennas that are integrated into the printed circuit board (PCB), and they can create customized antenna designs based on their customers’ unique requirements.

As just one example, using beamforming techniques, a single Traffic Insight Monitoring Sensor (TIMOS) mounted on some form of support over a roadway can monitor up to eight lanes and detect up to 256 vehicles simultaneously. There are many videos of bitsensing technology, applications, and deployments on their YouTube channel. Let’s look at just three of the little scamps as shown below:


Applications for bitsensing’s technology include transforming the capabilities of autonomous vehicles, reimagining the abilities of smart city infrastructures, and elevating connected living. And that’s just for starters. Personally, I think their technology will also prove to be very exciting in the world of autonomous robots.

In closing, I feel I’m long overdue for a return trip to South Korea. If I do get to go back there, in addition to visiting my old friends from yesteryear and dropping in on the new friends I’ve made while researching these columns, I don’t see how I could fail to visit the restaurants highlighted in the Extraordinary Gimbap Gourmet Tour.

Sad to relate, I hear that, although the “Woo Yeong-woo Gimbap” restaurant that appears in Extraordinary Attorney Woo is an actual eatery, it doesn’t actually sell gimbap (I fear they are missing an opportunity there), but I’d still like to visit it and get my picture taken outside.

How about you? Have you tried gimbap? I mean what do you think about bitsensing’s 4D radar imaging technology? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions.

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