Sleep test dream for local tech startup

By Siobhan Leathley

Aura MedTech - (L to R) Srikanth Devarakonda, Rushabh Trivedy, Isuru Pathirana, Gaurav Gujral. Photo supplied
Aura MedTech - (L to R) Srikanth Devarakonda, Rushabh Trivedy, Isuru Pathirana, Gaurav Gujral. Photo supplied

A new tool to help diagnose sleep disorders without the need for expensive sleep lab tests has been developed by a team of young Auckland engineers.

Four University of Auckland engineering students have created a new tool to help diagnose obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The team created a belt, which is worn around the chest to monitor breathing patterns during sleep, with sensors in the buckle, so no other wires or sensors are needed.

It monitors breathing patterns during sleep; then stores this information in the cloud for a doctor to access via the internet the next day.

The doctor can then decide whether or not to refer the patient to a sleep lab, which is currently the only way to diagnose OSA.

Rushabh Trivedy, chief executive of Aura MedTech, said currently 30 per cent of people referred to sleep labs do not suffer from OSA.

"This technology prevents this, and frees up space in busy labs for those who need to be tested.

These labs do the best they can to see people, but there is usually a five week waiting list."

Chief operating officer Gaurav Gujral, said the technology reduced the burden on sleep labs because it could be used at home without any medical assistance. It will also be far cheaper to access.

"It costs $1680 per night to stay at a sleep lab, which is too expensive for a lot of people."

The Aura MedTech is currently working with the director of an Auckland sleep lab, who has agreed to run a clinical trial. Once the technology is "up and running", the team plans to contact Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, which makes devices to help people with sleep apnea.

"This software us different from those already on the market, because of its ability to connect to the cloud," said Trivedy.

The company has now developed its third prototype; its previous prototype won third place at Microsoft's Imagine Cup New Zealand in April. The prize included $3000 to develop their concept.

Up until this point, the four-team members had been contributing their own money. Trivedy said total costs are so far less than $2500.

The team is competing in the Spark 100k competition. They entered in order to make contacts within the industry and meet potential customers and turn their venture into a reality.

The team met through university where they all studied engineering together. Currently Trivedy works as an Electrical Engineer at Beca, an engineering consultancy firm, while the three remaining are completing their degrees.

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