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New radar gun for amateur sports

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 21 December, 2002  (New Product)
Nowadays, model railways are less likely to be found on the Christmas list of those with a love of technological gadgets than consumer electronics. Alongside hifi systems, mobile phones or computers, a new type of speedometer will probably also make a few men's hearts beat faster.
At the ISPO trade fair for sports equipment and fashion, a 'wireless speedometer for all kinds of sport' received the 'Outdoor Award 2001' in the category for accessories. Indeed, the description given by Ciclo Sport, the distributor, need only be slightly moderated: The Radar Distance System RDS works neither under water nor high up in the air, and using it for chess or shooting makes little sense. Yet when activities on land, ranging between one and one hundred kilometers an hour, need to be measured, the device manufactured by Siemens is the world's smallest and most accurate speedometer. The price: Just under 200 euros, including accessories.

The small device weighs only 65 grams and fits into a small pouch worn on a belt. When the user runs, roller-skates or cycles, the RDS emits a fine radar beam. When the beam hits the ground or another solid obstacle at a distance of around six meters, it is reflected and the signal is returned. 'The measuring principle is similar to the acoustic Doppler effect which occurs in everyday life,' explains Stefan Mdl, a freelance member of staff at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS. 'When a police car drives past with its siren blaring, everyone has surely heard the change in sound's pitch, which is proportional to the relative velocity between car and listener. In the same way, the circuit we developed and patented evaluates the frequency shift of the radar microwave radiation to within a tolerance of less than one percent.' It makes no difference whether the pulsed beam is aimed in front of or behind the wearer.

The output values are known from conventional cycle computers and cover 17 separate functions. One of four ranges may be selected for the instantaneous speed. The RDS automatically switches from one up to the next, as required. A special feature for joggers is the 'minutes per kilometer' value. The size of the device is greatly determined by the power supply - a micro battery of type AAA supplies enough for up to 50 operating hours. In a few months' time, Ciclo Sport will launch a wristwatch with a new function on the market: It receives RDS data via radio and simultaneously measures the wearer's pulse rate. Variants of the radar gun which can be directly attached to sports equipment are currently under development.
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