When doctors are trying to determine if someone has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), they often get that person to sleep overnight in a lab while wired up to a variety of sensors. Known as polysomnography (PSG), this process records the patient's brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, breathing, and eye and leg movements. It's also a hassle, requiring expensive equipment and trained personnel. Soon, however, it may be replaced by a smartphone app.

Created at Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the app can be used by the patient at their home, and doesn't require the application of any sensors. Instead, it simply uses the phone's microphones to analyze audio.

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Part of the app is used while the patient is awake, as it analyzes vocal sounds that they record on the phone (A as in "apple," E as in "ear," etc). Once they're asleep, it proceeds to analyze the sound of them breathing. Needless to say, it doesn't measure all of the parameters that PSG does, but it reportedly does get enough information to diagnose OSA.

In tests conducted both in a lab and in homes, the app was used on over 350 test subjects, alongside traditional PSG tech. When it came to measuring sleep quality parameters such as sleep-wake activity, snoring severity and OSA itself, the two systems performed similarly.

Led by Dr. Yaniv Zigel and Prof. Ariel Tarasiuk, the research team is now working on commercializing the technology.

Source: American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev