Sleep Related SUID Monitoring System

Through the support of the TexasMRC Grant, the research team has made progress towards investigating a new method for Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID) monitoring that uses CO2 sensors placed in a crib around an infant to non-invasively monitor the variation in exhaled air concentration from him/her.  The goal is to detect any abnormal or irregular patterns in the infant’s breathing by monitoring the outputs of the CO2 sensors.  The output data can be used to activate an alarm or logged for diagnosis.

This work began with the development of a computational fluid dynamics model that could be used to predict the CO2 concentrations in the air surrounding a breathing baby.  The simulated results were used to determine how many CO2 sensors were needed and their optimal placement in order to maximize sensitivity to changes in breathing.


A physical prototype to represent an infant in a crib environment was designed and built.  A supply line of CO2 gas was placed inside the baby’s mouth which is programmed to simulate the exhalation volume typical of infants ranging in age from 0-12 months.  CO2 concentration levels were measured at three different locations in the crib environment: at the top of the bumper, directly on the mattress, and 22 inches above the baby’s mount.  In order to precisely control the volume and rate of CO2 released, a CO2 delivery system was designed and built to simulate the breathing patterns of an infant ranging in age from 0-12 months.




Current Status of Project

One aspect that is critical to the outcome of this project is how quickly the CO2 concentration levels inside the crib decrease once the CO2 supply is reduced or turned off.  On a related note, the CO2 sensors must be able to quickly detect this decrease in CO2 levels.  For a home-based SUID monitoring system, the ideal placement for the CO2 sensors is around the perimeter of the crib, which would avoid any safety concerns related to the sensors’ proximity to the infant.  However, to date, with the sensors placed around the crib perimeter, the CO2 concentration data has not showed a rapid enough response rate to a decline in CO2 levels.  Tests are now in progress for measuring the response rate of the sensors if they are mounted closer to the infant, for example, in the pajamas of the infant or in the crib sheets.  The new sensor location is yielding promising data, both in terms of sensitivity and response rate.  This new approach may indicate that CO2-based SUID monitoring is better suited for hospital use rather than home use, due to the requirement of mounting the sensors in close proximity to the infant.

Other areas of application that are being considered as alternate potential commercialization paths are health issues related to sleep apnea, asthma, or illnesses characteristic of elderly patients.


Publication, Patents filed, additional funding secured.

No publications or patents have been submitted for review to date.

Through a Technology Acceleration Grant, an additional $14,000 in funding has been secured to supplement the research being performed under the current 2012 TexasMRC Grant.  This additional funding enabled a preliminary market analysis to be performed.  Before launching into the technical work for this project, the team investigated the competitive landscape for similar monitoring devices in terms of capabilities and cost.  Also, in order to justify a commercialization effort, the team performed a market analysis of the supplier base to estimate the final unit cost.

Through the contacts of the clinician on the team, discussions have begun regarding other possible sources of funding, as well as extended fields of application for this CO2 sensing technology.

“The TexasMRC Grant Program has enabled us to bring together theoretical research and applied engineering practices to develop the CO2 based SUID sensing approach to its next level.  Moving the status of this research project from a lab to a pre-commercialization state continues to be the focus of this investigation.  Results to date have shown this method to be viable, and through this continued effort we expect to draw increased attention from federal funding agencies as well as additional commercial entities. “

Primary Investigator:

Heather Beardsley Ph.D., UTA
Staff-Automation & Robotics // (817) 312-1675  // Biography

Team Members

W. Paul Bowman, M.D.,UNTHSC

Brian Dennis, Ph.D., UTA

Raul Fernandez, Ph.D., UTA

J.-C. Chiao, Ph.D., UTA

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