MIT developed a system to track sleeping positions using radio waves

Shawn Knight

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In brief: Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a novel way to monitor someone’s sleep posture without disrupting them, or even physically interacting with them at all.

The non-invasive approach uses radio waves, rather than physical sensors or cameras, to study a person’s sleep posture. A device mounted in the room sends our radio signals and measures how they bounce off objects, including humans.

Researchers feed the data to a custom neural network that is able to determine how a sleeper’s body is positioned. It’s accurate enough to differentiate between similar positions, such as if a user is lying on their right side versus simply being tilted slightly to the right.

To discern between reflections coming from a human versus those from static objects like a mattress or a dresser, and to help determine exact positioning, the researchers focused on breathing. They used the rising and falling of a person’s chest and belly during breathing as a marker to “tag” body reflections.

Shichao Yue, one of the researchers involved in the project, said that since the system only records essential information for detecting sleep posture, “it is nearly impossible for someone to infer other activities of the user from this data.”

Yue and colleagues are scheduled to show off the system during a presentation at the UbiComp 2020 conference on September 15.

Image credit: Just dance, steveball

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OneSpeed

Posts: 405   +198
Unless you plan to strap yourself as you sleep, I find it useless to know what my posture is while asleep. What is the information used for, better posture while sleeping?
 
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Godel

Posts: 238   +142
Unless you plan to strap yourself as you sleep, I find it useless to know what my posture is while asleep. What is the information used for, better posture while sleeping?
It's possibly useful in studies of sleep apnoea (or apnea).

Edit: newatlas.com has some more reasons.

"First of all, why would a person's sleeping position need to be tracked? Well, for starters, frequent changes in sleep posture are often an indicator of poor sleep quality. And if a sleeping infant doesn't move for a long period of time, it could mean that SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is imminent. Additionally, a Parkinson's disease patient's inability to turn over in bed can indicate that their condition is worsening. And if a person suffers from epilepsy, then they shouldn't sleep on their stomach, as doing so increases their risk of sudden death."

 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,372   +5,789
Similarly I had a sleep study years ago and they, of course, recommended a mask .... when I pushed them harder they finally admitted that I could obtain the same results by sleeping on my side with a pillow behind me (or optional GF) to keep me from rolling over .... problem solved .... amazing how nonchalant these doctors at recommending the MOST expensive remedy and not readily willing to share all the options .....
 

p51d007

Posts: 2,479   +1,750
Unless you plan to strap yourself as you sleep, I find it useless to know what my posture is while asleep. What is the information used for, better posture while sleeping?
Well, if it wasn't for my smartwatch, I might have not known I have sleep apnea. I noticed at night, my deep sleep was light, and restless sleep was high, and when my restless would spike, my heart rate while sleeping would spike into the upper 80, lower 90's. Showed this to my doctor, had a sleep study done, and now I've been on a CPAP for almost a year. Restful sleep up, sleeping heart rate stays in the 50's and the really cool thing is I pretty much sleep though the night without waking up 2-3 or more times a night. Not tired during the day either. Blood pressure down too.
 
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OneSpeed

Posts: 405   +198
It's possibly useful in studies of sleep apnoea (or apnea).

Edit: newatlas.com has some more reasons.

"First of all, why would a person's sleeping position need to be tracked? Well, for starters, frequent changes in sleep posture are often an indicator of poor sleep quality. And if a sleeping infant doesn't move for a long period of time, it could mean that SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is imminent. Additionally, a Parkinson's disease patient's inability to turn over in bed can indicate that their condition is worsening. And if a person suffers from epilepsy, then they shouldn't sleep on their stomach, as doing so increases their risk of sudden death."

Well maybe.
Well, if it wasn't for my smartwatch, I might have not known I have sleep apnea. I noticed at night, my deep sleep was light, and restless sleep was high, and when my restless would spike, my heart rate while sleeping would spike into the upper 80, lower 90's. Showed this to my doctor, had a sleep study done, and now I've been on a CPAP for almost a year. Restful sleep up, sleeping heart rate stays in the 50's and the really cool thing is I pretty much sleep though the night without waking up 2-3 or more times a night. Not tired during the day either. Blood pressure down too.
The device measures sleep posture and not apnea. It may be able to infer some type of sleep disorder, but it does not specifically say what it is good for, other than posture. BTW, there are other ways of finding out if you suffer from sleep apnea, and I'm left to wonder how this can do it any better.