Professional finger sensor does work of medical sleep labs closed due to COVID-19

04-05-2020 | Nordic | Test & Measurement

Nordic Semiconductor has announced that medtech startup, Ectosense, is using Nordic nRF52832 and nRF52810 SoCs respectively in both versions of its state-of-the-art, battery-powered NightOwl home sleep testing wearable.


Due to the closure of sleep labs throughout the world due to OVID-19, the company claims its NightOwl sleep monitor is giving doctors accurate results but at a fraction of the inpatient costs.


The device is supplied in two versions – either an advanced every three-day rechargeable or a 10-night disposable – that both take the form of a small, wearable finger sensor. The device records 'photoplethysmography' readings using a 50Hz optical reflective sensor. This shines light onto the finger and from the intensity of reflections concludes, among other parameters, the oxygen saturation level of the blood. Sudden changes in this blood oxygen level are an accurate indicator of the presence of sleep apnea where an individual's breathing stops briefly while asleep. As this forces them to wake up it continuously stops them from having a good night's sleep.


"We've long been trying to convince doctors that the NightOwl is as effective at detecting sleep apnea as some of the more traditional and clunky equipment used in medical sleep labs," explains Wout Geeurickx, an electronic system design engineer at Ectosense who designed all of the NightOwl's hardware. "But medicine is a conservative industry and we were making slow but steady progress. The closure of sleep labs due to Covid-19, however, has seen many doctors forced to trial our NightOwl device until they can have their patients undergo a traditional all-wired sleep testing procedure again when the labs reopen. Our disposable variant also addresses an urgent need for devices free of contamination risk."


"What we are seeing as hospitals and incredibly brave front-line medical staff around the world battle against the surge impact of Covid-19 is what was previously a three to five-year horizon for medical device and IoT rollouts being pulled forward to now," concludes Geir Langeland, Nordic Semiconductor director of sales and marketing. "And it's because the benefits of the IoT are turning out to be extremely relevant to defeating Covid-19. These include increasing operational speed and efficiency without sacrificing accuracy, and doing more with fewer resources, including continuous remote monitoring and automated alarming and alerting, to mention but a few. And I'm just very pleased that IoT technology - including Nordic's full range of wireless technologies - is here today, ready to deploy, at scale, and at a commercial and technological viability that simply did not exist even a few years ago."


The device is FDA and CE approved for medical home sleep testing. The device can also store data internally for specific 'offline' use-cases, where the user does not have access to a smartphone.

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