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Research and Development

Adult respiratory function analysis systems

If you are hit with severe sleepiness during the day, you may have Sleep Apnea Syndrome (SAS). The number of SAS patients in Japan is estimated somewhere between 4 million and 10 million people. *1 SAS patients have caused traffic accidents, which has become a problem in the society. On the other hand, many people do not realize that they have SAS and only a few percent of those people visit doctors. At present, the diagnosis of SAS is generally done by polysomnography (PSG). Many sensors have to be attached to the patients over night. Thus, the tests are too rigorous to perform on the elderly and those who have other diseases.
According to the statistics by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW), the number of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients is approximately 16,000 in Japan *2 and is increasing every year. COPD is the disease in which alveoluses are destroyed by stimulants such as cigarette and the patients have trouble breathing. Presently, spirometers are commonly used for diagnosis. The patient has to breath in and out at the full capacity, which is quite often too difficult to do for those patients. These tests are not suited for those who have pneumonia, broken ribs or tuberculosis.*3

This research is to materialize a new principle to detect respiratory motion by the use of IR laser and image processing. The system uses an Infra-Red (IR) laser and a laser beam splitter (FG element) to illuminate the entire washroom with 1500 to 2000 IR beams. A camera with a solid state sensor such as CCD collects the positions of the beams on the thorax and abdominal area to obtain respiratory patterns of the patient. We will endeavor to develop clinical systems which will analyze the respiratory patterns to evaluate the respiratory disease or functions. Since the systems do not contact or invade the patient, the patient can sleep and breathe normally. We will expand the applications of the systems for the automatic analysis of respiratory patterns and to the early discovery of various diseases.

*1: NPO SAS network,
*2: MHLW statistics, 2013,
*3: Japan health promotion association,

* New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) chose our proposal as one of 2012 research and development support projects to startup companies.