Thursday, 17 Nov, 2011 Technology

Latest Invention: Robotic Polar-Bear Helps People with Snoring Problem


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This cute invention was unveiled this month at the International Robot Exhibition (IREX) that took place in Tokyo. Dubbed Jukusui-Kun (translated from Japanese as "deep sleep"), the device is a robotic pillow made in the shape of a polar bear.

The pillow is in fact a serious technological innovation hidden under the cute cover. It was developed by a group of scientists and engineers at Tokyo's Waseda University to help people suffering from snoring and those who live with them. This is how the robotic pillow works: each time a snoring becomes very loud (which could be the sign of sleep apnea) the device raises its paw and carefully touches the face of the sleeper so that they turn their sleeping position.

This is definitely the world's first anti-snoring machine among the variety of treatments for sleep apnea. The sleeping disorder that causes pauses in breathing during sleep is the problem that around 2 million people in Japan struggle with.

Mainly the disorder is linked with blood oxygen saturation and the robotic pillow functions with a pulse-oxygen meter connected to sleeper's hand. This device tracks the level of oxygen in the bloods and wirelessly sends the information to a terminal that examines the data and remotely sends necessary signals to the polar-bear.

In addition, the device features a microphone that estimates the noise level of the snoring. As soon as the level of oxygen decreases and snoring becomes louder, Jukusui-Kun steadily raises its paw and brushes the patient's face, which leads to a change of sleeper's position without waking. So far there has been no word on whether a commercial version of the robot will be developed, reports

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