Lenovo adds UWB sensor for human presence detection in ThinkPad

Article By : Nitin Dahad

Norway-based sensor company Novelda has announced that its UWB sensor will be integrated into PC manufacturer Lenovo’s flagship laptop...

Norway-based sensor company Novelda has announced that its ultra-wideband (UWB) sensor will be integrated into PC manufacturer Lenovo’s flagship laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Nano, for human presence detection. The company said this is the firt time a radar has been integrated into a laptop globally.

Novelda’s UWB impulse radar is a complete CMOS radar system integrated on a single chip. The technology’s extreme motion sensitivity enables accurate people detection, based on the range, movement, respiration and heart rate, up to 10m away from the sensor.

Novelda UWB human presence sensor
Novelda’s UWB human presence sensor (Image: Novelda)

Its human presence sensor detects a user approaching, and turns on the laptop automatically, without the need for touching the keyboard, also enabling automatic log-in, hence improving user experience. When the user moves away from the laptop, it locks and shuts off immediately. The result is improved security compared to today’s standard, according to Novelda. The company adds that this reduces energy consumption, estimated at an average of 10%, which corresponds to one hour of saved power per laptop per day.

ThinkPad TP-X1-Nano
Lenovos ThinkPad X1 Nano integrates a UWB human presence detection sensor (Image: Lenovo)

Reliable user presence detection is crucial for the function to be perceived as attractive. Novelda claims its human presence sensor is so sensitive that it even detects small breathing movements. The user can therefore sit completely still in front of the laptop, without it turning off. The company has been working for several years with Lenovo to adapt and validate the sensor’s functionality. In late September, the first laptop was announced, the ThinkPad X1 Nano, the flagship of the ThinkPad series, and is the lightest laptop from Lenovo, with a weight of less than 1 kilogram.

The CEO of Novelda, Jan Bjørnar Lund, said that it was a huge achievement for a startup like Novelda to have its sensor integrated into a consumer giant’s product. He said, “Intelligent devices that understand user proximity is the next big thing. Our sensor is perfect for, among other things, desktop screens, smart speakers, keyboards and flexible desk solutions. The potential for our technology is also great in other industries, for example within smart buildings and in digital health. We plan for a turnover of at least US$ 100 million in 2024.”

To enable this growth, the company plans to double its number of staff over the next two years, and also raise an additional US$ 15 million of investment. Novelda was founded in 2004 and said it has become recognized as a leading authority on UWB short-range radar sensor design. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway, with regional sales offices in San Jose (CA, USA) and Hong Kong, employing a total of 60 employees.

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