Challenge

Creating a smartphone connected solution to allow at-home monitoring of sleep apnoea patients’ breathing.

Approach

After establishing the potential to evolve existing wired sensor technology, we created a small wireless sensor and controller, and developed Bluetooth and smartphone app features to accompany the device.

Outcome

A wireless prototype device and app to monitor the patient’s breathing at home, with minimal disruption to normal routine.

At a glance

Client
Anaxys

Sector
MedTech
Connected health

Services
Electronics
Software
Systems engineering
Industrial design
Human factors

Launch date
November 2018

Team staff on project
40

Bluetooth-enabled sleep apnoea monitor

Diagnosis of sleep apnoea has typically required patients to sleep overnight in a specialist clinic whilst their breathing is monitored. It’s inconvenient, costly and people rarely get a normal night’s sleep. In order to improve the situation, we were asked to create a solution that allowed patients to have their breathing recorded whilst sleeping at home.

Team had previously developed a wired breathing rate monitor – the respiR8® for Anaxsys, an approved device for real-time monitoring of breathing rate. respiR8® is a small sensor embedded into a face mask, which detects the appearance and disappearance of condensation with each breath, and displays the breathing rate on a small handheld display.

After working with Anaxsys, our engineers recognised the potential of using the technology to diagnose sleep apnoea wirelessly and in the home. We evolved the existing device into a power-efficient prototype that could demonstrate how diagnosing sleep apnoea could be achieved without causing disruption to the user’s normal routine.

Wireless sensing technology

Using the existing sensor technology, we created a small wireless sensor and controller the size of a USB stick which connects to a face mask.

With our wireless sensing device, the user can now sleep overnight at home wearing the mask, while it records every breath and saves a log of the data.

The user can then use an accompanying smartphone app to view their breathing patterns and share the results with their clinician via the Cloud.

Alternatively, the user can simply return the sensor, via a prepaid envelope, to their sleep specialist who can then extract and analyse the data.

We knew success of this product had to include comfort for the user. If the user couldn’t sleep wearing the device, the connected health features wouldn’t matter. By minimising the sensing device, we could maximise the comfort and retrofit the sensors.

John Burke, Senior Consultant

Bluetooth and smartphone app

Once we had established the device’s look and feel, we developed the Bluetooth and smartphone app features for the device. This added functionality would have many benefits for both the user and their healthcare partners including: more readily accessible information, faster updates and a potential for Cloud connection and remote monitoring.

The app design is clean, simple and intuitive. We made sure that set up was easy, instinctive and reassuring. When in use, the user can see their own breathing rate on the app in real-time as soon as they start breathing.

Outcome

The wireless sensing device provides many benefits. The user is able to get a good diagnosis with minimal travel, discomfort or disruption to their sleep. The doctor gets more accurate and representative sleep data. The sleep clinic saves money and can increase patient throughput. It’s a great example of how connectivity can help solve real problems and give benefits to all the stakeholders involved.

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