Professor Paul Siqueira of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department was recently quoted by business columnist David Lazarus in the Los Angeles Times exploring the new 60 GHz radar technology called “Soli” developed by Google and deployed by Amazon for tracking sleep patterns. In reference to the potential danger of sleeping next to such a radar, Siqueira said “Even though you might spend a lot of time next to this thing while sleeping, you would get much more harmful exposure by working outdoors for a similar length of time.”
Siqueira, whom Lazarus consulted as an expert on radar technology, added that “In terms of radiation output, compare this to something like a lightbulb that you would find on a Christmas tree.”
As Lazarus began his column, “At first glance, it’s one of those things that appears relatively benign: Amazon received federal approval the other day to develop a device for tracking your sleep patterns. When you look closer, though, questions arise. Will the device’s radar sensors become an even more intrusive threat to our privacy than the microphones and cameras that the likes of Amazon, Apple, and Google already have in millions of homes? And what exactly does it mean having a radar-wave emitter beside your bed? Is it safe?”
As Lazarus concluded about answering the safety question by consulting Siqueira and other radar specialists, “Every expert in radar technology I consulted shrugged off the potential risk of being bathed all night in low-level electromagnetic radiation.”
Siqueira is the co-director of the ECE Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory at UMass Amherst and the science lead for Ecosystems as part of a joint satellite mission between NASA and the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO). Prior to arriving at UMass, Siqueira worked in the Radar Science and Engineering Section at the NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, run by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. Siqueira's research interests are in radar interferometry, polarimetry, micro- and millimeter-wave instrument development, and remote sensing science for terrestrial applications.
Siqueira received the Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan's Radiation Laboratory in Ann Arbor and a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. (August 2021)