University of Waterloo researchers have developed a radar system that monitors patients’ vital signs wirelessly, which eliminates the need to be hooked up to machines.
The radar system is enclosed in a device that’s smaller than a smartphone, according to the University of Waterloo, and sends radar waves that record breathing and heart rates. Then, an onboard digital signal processing unit uses its algorithms to analyze the data.
Right now, the researchers are targeting sleep apnea patients to benefit from this wireless radar system. According to George Shaker, an engineering professor at the University of Waterloo, this allows patients to run continuous daily tests in their own home instead of in a lab connected by wires to various machines.
“With traditional systems involving wires and appointments booked weeks in advance, you can’t sleep as you normally do in your own bed at home, making the common sleep study an unpleasant experience,” Shaker explains.
Trials took place at the Research Institute for Aging, where the radar system was secured to the ceiling of a model long-term care apartment with 50 volunteers sleeping in beds underneath. According to the team, the system was 90 percent as accurate as hard-wired equipment on the market today.
“This is the first time radar has been used for heart sensing with this degree of accuracy and in such an uncontrolled environment,” says Mostafa Alizadeh, a research associate who led the study. “Our subjects slept unobstructed, in any position, for up to eight hours.”
In addition to sleep apnea, the system can lend its services to a number of conditions, including restless leg syndrome, seizures, periodic limb movement disorder, and routine monitoring of patients’ heart and breathing rates.
The research was described in the article, “Remote monitoring of human vital signs using mm-wave FMCW radar,” published in IEEE Access.