Sensing Technology could help diagnose Sleep Apnea and Keep Drivers
March 3rd, 2006
patients have to go into a lab to conduct a sleep study. They have to
get wires hooked up to them and it is difficult sometimes to fall
asleep, making it hard to get an accurate diagnosis of sleep apnea. It is also an
expensive test because it is in a lab and can take 1-2 sessions to get a
diagnosis. This new technology is using sensors in the mattress,
pillow, and clothing to make it more comfortable to be diagnosed with
apnea. The researchers have it connected to a wireless network so that
the patient would be able to sleep in their own bed and transfer the
sleep data with minimal discomfort.
applications for the sensors could for drivers, to make sure that
they donít fall asleep while driving. While we all could use this on a
long trip, it would most likely be used to keep drivers of hazardous
material awake while driving. I guess an alarm would go off in the
truck while they are driving. Hopefully they wonít impose electrical
shock if you doze off!
A project called
SENSATION is a group of 46 partners from 20 different countries that is
working on a better way to sense physiological parameters and integrate
them into computers for medical and industrial applications. The goal
is to develop a multipurpose sensing platform that has 17 micro sensors
and two nano sensors which are connected to a computer network.
"The sensors will
allow you to sleep at home on, for instance, a mattress with sensors
instead of going to a hospital. The home is much more comfortable and the
test can become more precise. These tests are costly and since monitoring
sleep cannot be done in your home environment they are not as reliable,"
said Dr. Evangelos Bekiaris, project coordinator.
The project is to
integrate the sensors in various bed related items. Sensors would be in
the bed, pillow, textiles, wrist straps, seat linings, and frames in
glasses. There would not be wires attached and would wirelessly
communicate to a computer through a network. The sensors would be able
to monitor the brain activity, heart rate, eye and muscle movements.
The data would be collected and sent to the hospital for analysis for
diagnosing sleep apnea.
The project is
through its first half of funding. They will begin working on data
collection and a database for the sensors which will further help in the
development of each type of sensor.
"We have developed
something which is truly unique, with two extensive databases of sleep
data, one with data of normal sleep with 350 participants and another
one with sleep data of 400 people monitored while working or driving,
crossing the stage between vigilant to sleep," says Bekiaris. "About
half of these people were tested in a driving simulator but the other
half was tested driving on highways with double command cars. The tests
show a significant difference in the persons reactions, as the persons
in the simulator were more calm, knowing they were part of a test,
whereas the people on the highways were really fighting sleep."
in the United States are caused by driver fatigue 40% of the time. The
researchers of the SENSATION believe that this technology could reduce
serious road accidents by 30% if the technology was used.
technology would measure before the person actually starts to doze off
and alert them. By alerting them before they fall asleep it will get
them to become more alert and aware of their safety while driving.
technology could be used in other applications such as for airplane
pilots. They could use the technology for babies to help prevent cot
death (SIDS). It could be helpful technology in many industries.
"We currently have
nine sensors ready and plan to present the first sensors and prototypes
at the International conference on 'Monitoring sleep and sleepiness -
from physiology to new sensors' which will be held in Switzerland 29-30
May 2006," said Bekiaris.
The researchers of
the SENSATION project should have a working prototype for sleep apnea
studies by the beginning of next year. It will be interesting to see
how this technology develops.
Best Syndication Staff Writer
help you Sleep
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