Researchers use wireless network to observe breathing, can save lives

Category: | Posted on September 21, 2011

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When Neal Patwari and his team of researchers developed a wireless network capable of seeing through walls, we assumed they were simply looking to domesticate their Alastor Moody-like superpowers. Turns out, they had far more essential matters on their minds. Patwari and his colleagues at the University of Utah have now penned a unused peruse in which they demonstrate how their motion detecting technology could be used to monitor breathing patterns, as well, potentially enabling doctors to maintain closer track of patients with sleep apnea or babies vulnerable to sudden baby demise syndrome (SIDS). To perform this, Patwari reclined on a hospital bed and surrounded himself with 20 wireless transceivers operating at a frequency of 2.4GHz, as pictured above. He then timed his breathing at approximately 15 breaths per small (the average rate for a resting adult), which he measured with his array of nodes and a carbon dioxide monitor. The engineer ultimately build that his system's algorithm could accurately degree respiration within 0.4 to 0.2 breaths per small -- a relatively low mistake rate, since most monitors round off to the nearest widespread breath. Patwari says this development could offer a non-invasive and low-cost alternative to the devices used in most hospitals, and hopes to implement his technology into at-home baby monitors, as well. He acknowledges, however, that it will likely conclude at least five years before any of that happens -- so don't retain your breath. Full PR after the break.

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