Sudden Infant Death Syndome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death of babies aged one-month to one-year-old. And no one knows exactly what causes it. But two Israeli students from Ben Gurion University have an automated prevention system that eradicates it.
The system detects bodily changes known to precede SIDS and sets off an alarm to jolt a sleeping baby into a less susceptible awakened state. As part of their final research project, Tomer Apel and Anava Finesilver developed a novel algorithm to read skin temperature and heart rate from video footage.
"This is such a minor change that it's not visible to the human eye, but it's still there. We have developed algorithms to interpret the discoloration recorded by the camera and translate them into pulses. It's widely assumed that baby's pulses slow down before SIDS, and this system could help prevent this," said Apel.
To date, scientists are unsure of what causes SIDS. Like Apel and Finesilver's technology, modern prevention simply attempts to avoid situations known to be associated with SIDS. The Mayo Clinc website advises parents to put babies to sleep on their backs, use firm mattresses, keep the room cool, and, on occasion, use a pacifier. Other tech solutions include an automatic monitoring system, Hisense, which reads breathing patterns and alerts parents to threatening situations.
Telepresence technology is a growing medical industry, with big players like General Electric using behavior tracking of senior citizens inside their homes to pre-empt serious illness.
Apel and Finesilver hope to commercialize their product if tests continue to perform well.
[Image: Flickr user Julien Haler]