Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Device Can Help Save Babies

University of Texas at Arlington researchers have obtained a patent for a device aimed at saving babies lives through improved and rapid detection of breathing problems including “Sudden Infant Death Syndrome” or SIDS.

Electrical Engineering Professor J.C Chiao and his research team have developed a sensitive wireless sensor system that can detect carbon dioxide exhaled by babies as they sleep. Most importantly, the sensors know when infants are not expelling carbon dioxide quickly enough and are in danger. Chiao reports that the system is more accurate than current systems and should reduce false alarms that desensitize parents or caregivers.

The new sensors can be attached to a baby’s crib or car seat and means that the sensors are less cumbersome than current technology that requires breathing apparatus being placed around the baby’s nose.

The problem is that although there are audio, video, and motion detection systems available to monitor infants, it is still difficult to determine whether a baby is breathing. Current systems are no longer being endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Texas Medical Research Collaborative (TxMRC) recently awarded a $100,000 grant to develop a model and then test the model, design a commercially viable carbon dioxide-based monitoring system, and manufacture a prototype of the sensor system. UT Arlington is partnering with UNT Health Science Center.

TxMRC is a consortium of UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UNT Health Science Center, Texas Instruments, and the Texas Health Research & Education Institute. The Texas Manufacturing Assistance Center is administering the project on behalf of the consortium.

The research team is working to reduce the cost of the device to speed the sensor’s move to the marketplace with the cost to be around $100.