Isle firm gets contract to gauge sleep apnea


POSTED: Sunday, June 14, 2009

Honolulu-based Kai Sensors Inc. has been awarded a $100,000 National Science Foundation SBIR Phase I contract to develop a wireless sleep monitoring system for detecting sleep apnea, among other sleep disorders.

“;Right now, the way to get diagnosed for sleep apnea is to go to a sleep lab,”; said Davin Kazama, chief operating officer. Patients are hooked up to devices making it “;hard to sleep. It's costly and inconvenient because they have to stay overnight and it's uncomfortable,”; he said.

The testing can cost $1,500 or more.

Kai Sensors' plan is to develop a monitoring system patients can take home and put next to their own bed, he said.

The company will base the device on its Kai RSpot, a noncontact respiratory rate spot-check device, recently cleared for marketing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Kazama said.

The device “;doesn't touch you at all,”; but sends out waves, “;like a baby monitor,”; which bounce off a body to measure respiration.

When it completes a working prototype of the sleep monitor in Phase I, the company could qualify for a $500,000 Phase II award to support completion of the sleep monitoring device.

Some 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders including insomnia, while more than 12 million have obstructive sleep apnea.

Research cited by the company shows the direct annual cost for obstructive sleep apnea in the United States is $16 billion.