ITRI Showcases Digital Health Technologies at CES 2020 thumbnail

ITRI Showcases Digital Health Technologies at CES 2020

HSINCHU, Taiwan–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI), Taiwan’s largest and one of the world’s leading high-tech applied research institutions, today announced it will introduce and demonstrate the following digital health technologies at its booth 25650, LVCC, South Hall 2 at CES 2020:

  • WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System features a clinically tested non-contact method to identify sleep breathing status and inflate a cushion under the pillow to keep the user’s airway open.
  • PECOLA, a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree, is a companion robot for seniors, applying ambient intelligence technology to seamlessly measure the day-to-day life quality of seniors living alone and enhance their social interactions with friends and families.
  • iStimUweaR, a CES 2020 Innovation Award Honoree, is a health-assisting system that integrates TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) into fabrics to intelligently evaluate body status and provide optimized stimulation for pain relief, self-massage, and personal healthcare improvement.

ITRI’s WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System demonstration allows visitors to recline on an inflatable pillow, see their detected breathing rate on a nearby screen, and trigger the pillow to inflate by changing their breathing pattern. The PECOLA demonstration will feature its fall-detection technology by detecting a falling dummy, and the iStimUweaR garments and pads will be on display.

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder where breathing repeatedly stops and starts (as defined by Mayo Clinic). ITRI’s WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System identifies the sleeper’s breathing status, using a low-power WiFi device to detect the respiratory rate. The user does not need to wear any device. When breathing is interrupted, an airbag cushion under the pillow slowly inflates. The slight height increase in the head position keeps the airway open and eases sleep apnea and reduces snoring. The system automatically monitors breathing and is not affected by different sleeping positions or blankets. When the number of breathing stops decreases, the inflatable cushion is deflated back to its original state. The height change of the inflatable cushion is about three-to-five centimeters, and the cycle of each rise or fall takes about one minute to complete, so the user will not notice changes in the pillow position. ITRI’s solution allows the user to sleep comfortably while breathing is monitored.

The problem with existing contact-type wearable devices for detecting sleep apnea is that they require charging and are inconvenient and uncomfortable to wear resulting in low user acceptance. Moreover, contact-type devices have a fixed sensing range and often fail to measure reliably when patients roll over or move away from the sensing range during sleep. ITRI believes the WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System with its non-contact breathing and heartbeat detection is the most intuitive and least intrusive for sleep monitoring. Use cases for the WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System include homes and medical institutions. Health professionals can set up the device in the user’s room to detect stopped breathing, respond accordingly to help reduce breathing pauses and snoring, and check daily sleep quality through smartphones.

To validate the accuracy of the system using the WiFi electromagnetic wave to measure breathing, ITRI worked with the Chang Gung Hospital Sleep Center in Taiwan to conduct human trials. ITRI compared its WiFi Sleep Apnea Detection System to the ECG device of the sleep center in performing respiratory frequency measurement, and found during the sleep period, the average respiratory rate of the subjects in the Sleep Center measured by ITRI’s system was 9.948 per minute, which was quite close to the 9.974 measured by the ECG device. It is worth noting despite a WiFi access point (AP) for the WiFi Sweeper in the sleep examination room and 14 other WiFi APs being used in the hospital, ITRI’s system could still measure users’ breathing rates correctly. This demonstrated ITRI’s system can function normally without being affected by other working WiFi devices.

PECOLA (Personal Companion for Older People Living Alone) is a companion robot that applies ambient intelligence technology to seamlessly measure the day-to-day life quality of seniors living alone, and provide such information about the seniors as “do they eat healthily?”, “do they sleep well?”, “are they in any bad mood?”, and “do they exercise enough?” to enable the seniors’ friends and families to engage more deeply with them.

PECOLA is an autonomous mobile robot shaped as a moving piece of furniture which consists of a camera, a WiFi access point, an auto phone dialer, and a microphone array. The camera is equipped with intelligent video analysis capabilities such as face detection, expression recognition, diet analysis, physical activity assessment, and fall detection. If a fall or abnormal behavior is detected, the system reaches either a caregiver or emergency contact. The WiFi AP offers a transparent way to accurately measure breathing and heart rate without requiring wearable sensors. An array of small microphones collects multidirectional audio data to detect keywords for emotion analysis and to identify sources of specific sounds. For autonomous navigation, the mobile robot is equipped with multiple obstacle detection sensors, including a camera and a 2D LiDAR, for smooth maneuvering in home environments.

PECOLA is like a robotic butler that accompanies and looks out for seniors living alone for their friends, families or caregivers. With ambient intelligence at its core, PECOLA supports multiple advanced AI-based functionalities: Sleep Analysis: WiFi-based breathing and heart rate detection technology; Diet Analysis: Video-based food portion change, fresh versus leftover, specific dish name (currently Chinese food only), and nutrient-content detection; Activity Analysis: Four human poses (standing, sitting, bending and lying), video-based fall detection technology, interval walking training program for blood sugar control; Emotional Analysis: Video- and voice-based detection of emotions: happy, angry, sad, surprise, fear, disgust, contempt, and neutral emotions.

Although many devices and services have emerged recently to help seniors age healthily, PECOLA is uniquely and specifically designed to cater to two of the most important needs of seniors’ friends, families and caregivers. First, PECOLA provides peace-of-mind for friends, families and caregivers when they can’t be physically present. Second, PECOLA provides appropriate topics of conversation for a senior’s friends, families and caregivers for meaningful interaction and social engagement. Through ambient intelligence technology, PECOLA measures various quality of life indicators of seniors living alone and detects emergency situations without requiring them to wear any sensors or install sensors around their home.

Photos and videos are available here.

ITRI’s CES 2020 online press kit is available here: https://www.tradeshownews.com/events/ces-2020/ITRI/

About ITRI

The Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) is one of the world’s leading technology R&D institutions aiming to innovate a better future for society. Founded in 1973, ITRI has played a vital role in transforming Taiwan’s industries from labor-intensive into innovation-driven. It focuses on the fields of Smart Living, Quality Health, and Sustainable Environment.

Over the years, ITRI has incubated over 280 innovative companies, including well-known names such as UMC and TSMC. In addition to its headquarters in Taiwan, ITRI has branch offices in the U.S., Europe, and Japan in an effort to extend its R&D scope and promote opportunities for international cooperation around the world. For more information, please visit: http://www.itri.org/eng.

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