Excelpoint Technologies Ltd., of Singapore, has developed the Intelligent Baby Monitoring Mat to measure an infant’s breath rate and sound an alarm if there is a potential problem. The device is a finalist in the Asian Innovation Awards.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the leading cause of death among infants aged one month to 12 months is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, also known as crib death. More than 2,000 infants a year in the U.S. succumb to it. SIDS is defined by the CDC as a “sudden death that cannot be explained after a thorough investigation is conducted, including complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and a review of the clinical history.” Such deaths have been reduced in the past decade, thanks to education campaigns that teach caregivers how to reduce risks by, for example, placing babies on their backs to sleep and keeping them away from secondhand tobacco smoke.
Excelpoint Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Albert Phuay said this application of fiber-optic technology was a result of speaking with doctors about problems faced by parents. The company tested the mat on 65 babies, both premature and full-term, over a six-month period in KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Singapore. The battery-powered mat, embedded with what the company calls BreathOptics Technology, is positioned under the infant. In the tests, it showed an accuracy rate of 83% compared with manual records kept by hospital staff. The fiber cable is inside the mat, in a sandwich structure, and the sensors detect light reflections caused by a baby’s breathing and other movements. Excelpoint said what sets its device apart from existing products on the market—there are baby monitors that track conditions ranging from room temperature to pulse rate—is that a baby’s full weight is on the mat, the fiber sensors are based on bending of light and thus extremely sensitive, the device tracks breath counts and it is lightweight and portable.