New smartphone app may monitor sleep disorders

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Washington | Published: December 15, 2014 9:00 AM

Researchers are developing a smartphone app that can track your breathing while you sleep.

Researchers are developing a smartphone app that can track your breathing while you sleep, making it easier to monitor sleep disorders.

A team of researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology and Florida State University conducted a six-month study in which earbuds that included an in-line microphone were plugged into a smartphone that recorded sounds as six people slept.

Even with the earphones placed on a table next to the bed, researchers were able to use the microphone to monitor participants’ breathing to within half a breath per minute of what could be recorded with a chest-worn respiration monitor and a microphone clipped to participants’ collars.

Yingying Chen, an associate professor at Stevens, said the team plans to release a smartphone app related to their work next year, ‘MIT Technology Review’ reported.

Such an app could make it easier and cheaper to accurately keep tabs on the quality of sleep than sensor-laden wristbands or devices that sit on or beneath the mattress, researchers said.

Chen believes the work can help diagnose health problems like sleep apnea. Typically, such problems are studied at hospitals, where sensors are attached to a patient’s body and snoozing is monitored by medical professionals.

Chen said that it can be hard for doctors to capture irregular patterns in this kind of setting.

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