Neuroscience hackathon yields sleep apnea detector

· The Pulse

An affordable and non-invasive way to detect sleep apnea is among the projects that emerged from natHACKS 2022, NeurAlbertaTech's second annual neuroscience hackathon.

Sleep Apnea Guardian monitors and processes EEG brain signals during sleep and provides instant feedback on when a sleeping person stops breathing.

"We can easily link our instant feedback to an alert system where caregivers or loved ones will be alerted immediately when the patient stops breathing for extended periods of time," co-inventor Yushu Zhang said in a video presentation about the application, which won first place in the rehabilitation track, earning the team a $2,000 prize.

The 64-hour hackathon running from July 29 to Aug. 1, saw dozens of students and recent grads in Edmonton, Calgary, and Lethbridge experimenting with brain-computer interfaces to solve real-world problems, hacking together 38 projects by the end of the long weekend.

"My team and I were thoroughly impressed," said Eden Redman, executive director of NeurAlbertaTech. "It was a dream come true ... With the breadth of the projects, we're happy with all the winners. They're definitely deserving."

A total of $10,000 was awarded to seven winners in four categories, as well as in-kind support to help the teams turn their minimum viable products into potentially commercializable ventures.

A screen capture of a video with a student in the top-left corner, beside a cartoon of a sleeping brain above the words "Sleep Apnea Guardian" and a chart showing a drop in breathing during sleep

Sleep Apnea Guardian's inventors put together a video demonstrating their minimum viable product at the end of this year's natHACKS neuroscience hackathon. (natHACKS 2022/DevPost)

The second-place winner in the rehabilitation stream was 2Sense. It seeks to better understand the senses that are associated with balance, which could eventually lead to early diagnosis of conditions such as Parkinson's disease, as well as provide a way to model sensory impairments or aid in the study of sensory-motor coordination.

The winners in the research track were EMG Control Simulation Tool, which uses electromyography signals from the brain to control a virtual arm, and BrainCheck, a neural decoding application for use with patients who have Locked-in-Syndrome.

The winners in the recreation track were Brain Blast, a two-player virtual reality battle game, and StanlEEG, an interactive 3D video game that responds to the player's mood and fatigue level.

And the junior track winner was Flowmodoro, which seeks to improve productivity by melding the Pomodoro technique with the flow state.