SHARJAH: Around 10 per cent of the population in the UAE suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), reveals a recent sleep study, which began in September 2011 at Rashid Hospital in Dubai. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), approximately 100 million people worldwide suffer from it.
Sleep apnoea is a sleep disorder characterised by the repetitive reduction of airflow during sleep, which in turn causes reduced breathing. The recurring arousal from sleep due to a blockage of airway causes fragmented sleep patterns and lead to the activation of the body’s sympathetic nervous system.
The diagnosis is traditionally made through a polysomnogram – a laboratory-based sleep study that requires a minimum of 22 wires attached uncomfortably to the patient’s body while sleeping.
But an award-winning sleep apnoea monitoring mobile application developed in the UAE by the engineering students of American University of Sharjah allows users to get a sense of whether or not they are likely to have sleep apnoea before continuing with more expensive and advanced sleep tests.
Named SAM, it is designed for Android and Windows-based smartphones and it utilises the device’s built-in microphone, accelerometer to measure breathing and movement patterns in a cost-effective and much more comfortable manner.
“The AUS Sleep Apnoea App SAM has been undergoing rigorous testing since its inception and has already proven to be a success,” said Dr Fadi A Aloul, associate professor, Computer Science and Engineering.
“Through SAM, the recorded data is securely sent to a server, where it is stored for analysing results, diagnosing patients, and maintaining geographical studies of areas with sleep apnoea patterns. The system diagnoses and reports the level of the user’s sleep apnoea. In addition, doctors can remotely monitor users through the website, which is interfaced with Google Maps to keep track of user locations and their analysed records.”
Dr Aloul added: “We are now ready to take the app to the next level and commercialise it for mass use, but funding remains essential. The solutions developed at the AUS are designed to support different local and regional business sectors by providing them with the innovation needed to compete with global organisations. That is why it is time for venture capital firms in the region to realise the local talent and invest in locally developed technologies, which stand up to global competitors.”
SAM has won numerous local and international awards and accolades, including the du Mobile Development Award; second place in the Microsoft Imagine Cup UAE competition; second place in the 7th National Mobile Contest organised by Khalifa University and Khalifa Fund; third place in the IEEE (the world’s largest association for the advancement of technology) Engineering Day Competition as well as first place in the AUS College of Engineering Senior Design Competition.
The application was designed by Shamma Al Qassim, Mahdumeta Ganesh, Shaheen Khoja and Meher Zaidi, all computer Engineering students at the AUS College of Engineering.
“AUS has numerous patents and technologies developed on campus that people still don’t know about. The support of public and private organisations is crucial to bringing these technologies to life and positioning the UAE as a science and technology development hub among advanced nations. We extend an invitation to all organisations to visit our labs and learn more about our technologies,” concluded Dr Aloul.