Sleep apnea can be a big problem for people affected by the disorder, but there is help from Japan on the way. A team of researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo have developed a robot pillow that monitors the sleep of patients and helps them by touching the face or neck whenever it detects irregularities in the sleep cycle.
The pillow, which is dubbed Jukusui-kun, is shaped like a teddy bear. In Japan alone, about 2 million people are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea (out of a population of 128 million), meaning the target group is quite large.
Teruko Otani from the Jukusui-kun’s research group explains how the pillow works:
In this system, a pulse oxymeter, worn on the finger, measures oxygen concentration in the blood. Also, a microphone in the teddy bear picks up the sound of snoring. The data from these two devices is evaluated by a PC, and reflected in the signal sent to an actuator, so the actuator movement can be varied depending on the person’s condition. The actuator movement helps the person roll over in their sleep, and if their breathing is badly interrupted, it wakes the person up.
This video, shot by Diginfo TV (in English), shows the robot pillow in action: