Sleep monitoring technology

Sleep should be a time of supreme comfort. That’s why it doesn’t make sense to doze under a blanket of sensors and wires. Start from imec’s sensing technology to make sleep monitoring less burdensome for patients and more cost-effective for caregivers.

Insomnia is an epidemic. No less than a third of US adults suffer from sleep deprivation. In the long run, they risk serious health consequences: type two diabetes, heart disease, obesity, ...

The main obstacle towards effective treatment is deficient diagnosis. The common sleep monitoring technology for detecting disorders such as apnea and arrhythmia is polysomnography. Here, the patient is covered with numerous wired sensors and spends the night in the hospital.

Where current sleep monitoring technology falls short

Polysomnography struggles with serious drawbacks:

  • It’s uncomfortable for the patient and affects the way he sleeps – which can compromise the research results.
  • It’s expensive, mainly because it requires constant supervision by hospital staff. That also limits the diagnostic capacity.
  • It’s no more than a snapshot. The need for hospitalization means that the observation period is often no longer than one night. Which might not be enough for a correct diagnosis.

Consumer electronics solutions, such as wrist trackers, don’t suffer from these disadvantages. But they’re unfit for medical applications.

Imec’s sleep monitoring technology, including non-contact sensing, helps you to overcome all obstacles towards unobtrusive, clinical-grade sleep monitoring.

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The technology behind non-obtrusive sleep monitoring

In order to record someone’s vital signs during sleep, imec uses capacitive sensors or radar chips that don’t require direct contact with the skin. These sensors measure:

  • heart activity (ECG)
  • respiratory activity (trough bio-impedance)

The signals are processed by biomedical systems-on-chip. Advanced algorithms turn these huge amounts of data into reliable information. There is no need for manual annotation during the sleep test.

These technological building blocks are the results of groundbreaking research in nano- and digital technology. And yet, they can be produced at a relatively low cost. That makes them ideal for long-term monitoring of large groups of people – even in the comfort of their own homes.

Sleep monitoring technology: some examples

Imec has already put its sleep monitoring technology into practice. Here are two examples:

  1. The start-up Onera develops a fully disposable, medical-grade sleep diagnostic device that will bring sleep diagnostics from the sleep lab to the comfort of a patient’s home.
  2. Imec designed a prototype of a smart mattress cover which uses embedded capacitive sensors to measure heart respiratory activity through clothing and bedsheets. Cutting-edge algorithms are used to cancel out motion artefacts and noise that arise because of the patient’s movements during the night.

Develop your own sleep monitoring solution with imec

Join one of our R&D programs to get access to our technology platforms and tune them to your own product requirements. Or enter into a bilateral collaboration with imec and trust on our in-house expertise to guide you through the entire development of your sleep monitoring solution.

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