With many individuals unaware that they even have sleep apnea, researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle decided to develop the app, ApneaApp.
This sophisticated diagnostic app can be used in the home to detect sleep apnea while trying to get a good night of rest.
ApneaApp is believed to identify and track breathing movements – but thankfully, without the need of 14-hour long hospital visits and advanced monitoring equipment.
So, just how promising is the technology behind ApneaApp?
Read on to find out what all the hype is about – and our initial thoughts.
Who will benefit from ApneaApp
Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. For some, sleep apnea will cause mild discomfort, and for others, it can be life-threatening. When even the mildest cases are left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to serious health problems, such as insomnia, stroke, diabetes and heart disease. There are also several types of sleep apnea that include Central (CSA), Obstructive (OSA), and a combination of both – with the most common being OSA according to the National Institute of Health.
Researchers and Professors at the University of Washington say sleep apnea is so common that it affects over 25 million Americans. Sadly, it’s a difficult condition to diagnose, and current diagnosis methods cost thousands of dollars. Regardless of current age and quality of life, we’re all targets for sleep apnea. The great thing about ApneaApp is that all you need is an Android phone with at least two microphones to determine whether or not you stop breathing during sleep.
Reaction from sleep science community
It’s all very well us telling you about how clever and convenient ApneaApp is – but what have the sleep science community got to say about the Android smartphone application? Full research articles have been published by Rajalakshmi Nandakumar, Shyam Golakota and Nathaniel Watson proving that ApneaApp is the first contactless system capable of measuring breathing signals and detecting sleep apnea events on a smartphone device.
Main features of ApneaApp: the Sleep Apnea App
Given that a lot of people have sleep apnea, and so many unknowingly – we thought it best to determine the main features of ApneaApp to save you the time and hassle.
Firstly, ApneaApp works in all bedroom environments. Regardless of sleeping position and whether you’re under a blanket, it works efficiently at distances of up to 3 feet. The smart app also estimates the Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) and records the number of apneas and hypopneas which are key to diagnosing sleep apnea.
Another main feature of ApneaApp is its ability to track breathing patterns by capturing a number of respiratory events during sleep including obstructive apnea, central apnea and hypopnea. It has a built-in nap tracker to estimate the total sleep time and can detect abdominal breathing motion, as well as leg and overall body movement to assess the effectiveness of your breathing.
What’s more, signals can cover two people sleeping side by side and separated by ten centimetres from a phone at a bedside table and still distinguish between both breathing patterns.
Finally, ApneaApp sends inaudible sound waves from your smartphone’s speaker that reflect off the body to track breathing sequences – which are then recorded by the phone’s microphone.
- Helps to determine connections between sleep and breathing habits and health outcomes.
- Sonar technology is used to track breathing patterns when asleep without having to hook up to an endless array of sensors and wires, as you would in a hospital study.
- Using ApneaApp in the comfort of your own home over the course of one or several weeks could identify sleep apnea symptoms and provide you with an accurate gauge of your breathing patterns.
- Researchers are developing a newer version of ApneaApp to ensure it’s inaudible to all humans. Currently, adults cannot hear the emitted sound waves. However, it has been reported that children can high-pitched sound waves when the app is in use.
- ApneaApp isn’t currently compatible with all smartphone devices and only operates off the Android platform with at least two microphones.
- The app is still in developmental stages and waiting for FDA approvals for release.
Could something that’s small enough to fit into a pocket really help us detect sleep apnea events?
Well, the clinical study with 37 patients over 296 hours tells us that it can.
Also, according to assistant professor in the Department of Computer and Engineering at the University of Washington, Shyam Gollakota, the very first comparative test on the Android app was almost as good as a sleep lab.
At the end of the day, sleep apnea is dangerous, so if there is any single thing, or in this case, an app to raise the alarm, we’d certainly download it and do the right thing by our health.
We’ll let you know if and when the ApneaApp receives FDA approval.