Creating and sharing knowledge for telecommunications

IT helps to develop a pioneer submarine cables system to detect seismic activity

on 18-03-2020

... After more than 500 years since the Age of Discoveries, Portugal is yet again on the verge of assuming a “pioneer and leading role in the Atlantic”, says Yasser Omar, Professor at IST and a researcher from IT. Within a project called “Listening to the Earth under the Atlantic” a group of researchers from IT, the Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA) and the Intituto Dom Luiz (IDL) have been working on the launching of new submarine communications cables between Portugal´s mainland, Azores and Madeira.

The novelty is that, beyond telecommunications, the structure that should be operating around 2024 will be used in science research (e.g. climate change, oceanography, geophysics and sysmology) and also to monitor and forecast the risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. “These are ideas that can be very revolutionary from a scientific point of view, but also with great technological and societal implications", explains Yasser Omar.

In 1893, a submarine telegraph cable was created between the mainland and Azores. In the following century, there were coaxial submarine cables (allowing for several telephone circuits) and, in 1988, appeared the first intercontinental fiber optic submarine cable connecting Europe to the United States (a system that, four years later, arrived in Portugal).

The new CAM (Continent-Azores-Madeira) ring, that will replace the current structure (it will become obsolete untill 2025) represents a next step. These new submarine fiber optic cables will allow collecting information from the seabed, detecting seismic vibrations and, with the installation of pressure sensors, to descriminate between normal waves and tsunamis. As for telecommunications, besides greatly improving the internet traffic in Azores and Madeira, this system will also allow promoting our international connectivity, giving Portugal “more independence and choice, with better quality and at better prices”, in terms of communications, said José Barros in na interview to Público.

Although there are already submarine cables with sensors capable of detecting seismic activity, these are reserved for this exclusive use. Thus, the new CAM ring will have the first hybrid-use cables in the world.

For Yasser Omar, there is no doubt: “It is the opportunity for Portugal to be a pioneer in the world in launching a telecommunications infrastructure that also has this scientific, technological and a civil protection application componente, setting an example to the world.”

New Bio-Radar detects emotions from a distance

on 15-03-2020

... The first version of the Bio-Radar was developed in 2017 by researchers from IT in Aveiro and the Instituto de Engenharia Electrónica e Telemática from the University of Aveiro (IEETA-UA). With this prototype version it was possible to register the human respiratory rate remotely, without requiring the usage of any contact sensors or wires. The prototype could operate in real-time, by displaying the acquired respiratory waveforms and computing the breathing rate. The system is composed by a continuous wave radar, operating at 5.8 GHz, which transmits a sinusoidal wave towards the chest-wall of the subject and its reflection is received by the RF front-end. The received signal is a phase-modulated version of the transmitted one, caused by the chest-wall motion due to the cardiopulmonary function.

The most recent developments of the Bio-Radar prototype were focused on the prototype improvement having in mind some possible applications, more specifically in the psychophysiological area. In this scope, a validation was performed by using the vital signs acquired with the bio-radar system, to identify three emotions: fear, happiness and neutral state, where there is no particular emotion. These emotions were induced through video clips visualization. Emotion identification was possible to perform by analyzing patterns of physiological activation, that are present either in respiratory signal, and also in other body motions inherent to each emotion.

Classification algorithms were implemented in respiratory signals from 9 subjects, and the accuracy rate was evaluated in 60% to 70%. These results led to a publication in Biomedical Signal Processing and Control from Elsevier (

Within the many possible applications of this system, it is possible to highlight the clinic context, where the Bio-Radar system can be a complementary method of evaluation, diagnostic and monitoring of some disorders associated to physiological changes. Since this is a wireless tool, it can be important for patients suffering from, Autism Spectrum Disorders, for instance, where the physiological change evaluation is hampered due to the often-reported touch hypersensitivity. In this way, our system allows the monitoring without direct contact with subjects, which eases the acquisition of objective measures.

As future work it is intended to detect also the cardiac signal, in order to obtain more information useful to identify other emotions, such as disgust or sadness.

Working on the new version of the Bio-Radar is a multidisciplinary team of researchers from IT in the UA (Ana Tomé, Carolina Gouveia, José Vieira and Pedro Pinho) and from the Department of Education and Psychology of UA (Filipa Barros and Sandra Soares).