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Center for Space Medicine

Non-Contact Sleep, Vitals and Behavior Sensing to Predict and Protect Astronaut Health

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Doctors use physiological signals to monitor if a patient is in distress. These signals can be readings or measurements produced by the body and include heart rate, respiration rate and skin temperature. These vital signs can indicate if someone is in distress, perhaps even before they realize it. 

Being able to measure physiological signals for astronauts during a deep-space mission continuously is essential. These individuals live and work in a high-stress environment; the ability to always measure vital signs could help understand their health and detect problems before they escalate. But, wearing multiple sensors and wires is a burden on the crew.

Now, envision that these vital signs can be collected and monitored wirelessly. 

Emerald Innovations has created a touchless sensor and machine learning platform for health analytics to monitor sleep, vitals and behavior without being burdened with wires and sensors.

TRISH principal investigator Dr. Dina Katabi, MIT professor and founder of Emerald Innovations, is advancing the technology to give astronauts the freedom to go about their day-to-day missions without a tangle of wires and equipment.

Terrestrial Benefits 

Non-contact monitors would be a boon for healthcare providers on Earth. 

The COVID pandemic has illuminated how essential access to telehealth services are, especially for the elderly population. Connecting with doctors and medical staff remotely, without driving to a hospital or clinic, reduces cost and inconvenience - the ability to passively monitor important health signals takes it a step forward.

While astronauts do not share the same complications as the elderly, having access to their health measurements will allow them to fully focus on their mission at hand without having to be burdened in collecting measurements. And better yet, they’ll be able to do so as safely as possible.  

“We started interacting with TRISH to fully understand astronauts’ potential health problems, what does a space station look like and what can you measure,” said Dr. Katabi. “This is very exciting for us to learn and also to participate and be part of the space program.”