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RFID Sensors Track Sleep Patterns

With iMPak Health's SleepTrak system, consumers can don an RFID tag on their arm at bedtime, and built-in motion sensors will then track the quality of their sleep.
By Claire Swedberg
Apr 27, 2011iMPak Health plans to soon begin marketing an RFID-enabled product for consumers who have trouble sleeping. The system employs Near Field Communication (NFC) active RFID tags, as well as a software application that runs on NFC-enabled smartphones, such as those from Nokia. The solution would enable consumers to capture and store data regarding their sleep patterns throughout the night, based on a sensor worn on one arm, and then forward that information to their personal computer, to store and track their own sleep patterns, or for a physician to review. The solution, known as SleepTrak, will be made available this spring, says Sandra Elliot, the company's director of consumer technology and service development.

IMPak, a joint venture of silicon chip company Cypak and New Jersey health-care firm Meridian Health, was launched last year to market several products designed to help patients or consumers manage their heath at home, including an RFID-enabled journal for pain management (see RFID-enabled Journal Helps Track Pain), and a food journal and step counter for weight management. This year, the company is also developing a glucose-monitoring solution for diabetics that is currently being reviewed for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The device will test small blood samples and transmit the results to an NFC-enabled phone.

The SleepTrack system will be sold directly to consumers via sources such as Amazon.com, as well as directly on iMPak's Web site, though a specific date has yet to be set for when the system will become commercially available. The solution was designed with the help of physicians who are sleep experts, and who advised iMPak as to what type of data would be useful to doctors diagnosing a sleep disorder. In that way, customers could employ SleepTrack to share that information with their own physicians if they believe they need medical support.

To use the system, individuals would need to have a Nokia C7 phone and install the SleepTrack application—which, Elliott says, will be made available as a free download at Nokia's Ovi Store, once the phone company completes its testing of technical components of the application within its own platform. Users would also need to purchase a sensor device, about the size to a credit card, which comes with a cuff that holds the card against a person's upper arm (the sensor and cuff cost $29.99). Then, prior to going to sleep, the wearer could access the application on his or her phone and answer a series of questions about that particular day, describing activities, diet and stress levels. When the user is in bed, several motion sensors built into the device measure the frequency and size of any movements. That data would then be stored on the 32 kilobytes of memory available on Cypak's CEM083 chip, which functions as an active 13.56 MHz RFID tag and complies with the ISO 14443-A standard. The information could then help the individual, or his or her health-care provider, understand the quality of sleep experienced.

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