Researchers at the University of Utah have developed a new motion detection technology that uses a wireless network to monitor breathing patterns in hospital patients. The system was developed with the hope that it could help doctors monitor sleep apnea, track the breathing patterns in surgery patients and even provide risk management in babies who are at a higher risk for sudden infant death syndrome.
In demonstrating the technology lead researcher Neal Patwari lined a hospital bed with 20 wireless transceivers on the 2.4 gigahertz frequency. Patwari then timed his breathing to approximately 15 breaths per minute, using a carbon dioxide detector to verify his findings. Based on 30 seconds of data from the network his algorithm was able to measure respiration to within 0.4 to 0.2 breaths per minute, far exceeding the capabilities of many current monitors.
The research team says their new system will be cheaper than current breathing monitors since it uses “off-the-shelf wireless transceivers” such as the ones used with home computer networks.
Research on the project is still ongoing and the next step for the team is to discover a better frequency than the 2.4 gigahertz option so they can more accurately monitor breathing patterns. Researchers want the system to be so accurate that it can detect two people breathing at the same time with different breathing patterns, a discovery that could allow for monitoring of patients in a shared hospital room.
According to the research team the system could become a reality in baby monitoring system within five years.