Microchip Sensor for Detecting Respiratory Rate

Research team at the Tyndall National Institute has created a unique microchip sensor that is capable of detecting the respiratory rate of a person without establishing physical contact with the person.

The chip acts like a bedside monitor by keeping a tab on the breathing rate of babies and other patients who have obstructive breathing problem. The sensor can effectively detect fatal emergency conditions such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and sudden sleep of vehicle drivers. Using this sensor, the health condition of the patient can be monitored at home and data can be sent to GPs and medical staff at the hospitals. Apart from the biomedical uses, the sensor can be used in applications that need to track moving objects without establishing any contact.

The sensor is made up of ultra-wide band pulse radar integrated into a silicon chip. The sensor can detect movement up to sub-centimeter level by sending short pulses to the chest and captures the reflected echo. The output is sensed by the proximity to the skin caused by the movements of the chest. The sensor adheres to strict worldwide standards set for medical devices.

Dr. Domenico Zito, who led the research team, regarded the successful design of the chip as the fruit of dedicated effort of the research team and the co-operation of the Bioengineering research group of the University of Pisa in Italy. He added that the research papers were presented at the IEEE International Solid-State Circuits Conference 2011 in San Francisco, which was a platform for showcasing microelectronic designs for academic and industrial fields. He is confident that the chip will make a breakthrough in respiratory disease monitoring and reduce the number of deaths caused by SIDS and driver fatigue.

The research work was supported by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), the European Commission and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technologies.

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