Volume 88, No. 124
June 14, 2007
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June 14, 2007


Real-Life Devices

Engineering student and professor may have found a way to prevent SIDS

Story by: Barbara Gelinas

Contributor to The Shorthorn
The Shorthorn: Robert Rodriguez
Hung Cao, electrical engineering graduate student, is developing a device that may help prevent SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome.
It started when the carbon dioxide tanks were delivered late to the lab.

That’s when Hung Cao, electrical engineering graduate student, decided to test carbon dioxide sensors by exhaling on them instead of using the tanks.

In June 2006, he and colleagues from the university’s Automation and Robotics Research Institute were researching medical applications for the gas sensors they were using. Cao discovered the carbon dioxide sensors could detect exhaled air from about 19 inches away.

Jung-Chih Chiao, electrical engineering associate professor, heads their research and discussed with Cao using the sensors to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, but they hadn’t figured out the practical details, Chiao said.

When Cao’s son, Sean, was born in July, he had an idea while watching nurses tend to the babies in the hospital nursery.

“Other monitoring devices are invasive,” he said. “We wanted to do something that wouldn’t have to be attached to the baby.”

Cao mounted carbon dioxide sensors on the sides of the crib instead. The sensors monitor the baby’s breathing, and if the baby stops exhaling the normal amount of carbon dioxide, the sensor triggers an alarm.

Experts recommend that babies be placed on their backs when sleeping to prevent SIDS. However, Cao and his colleagues realized that the crib sensors wouldn’t be effective if the baby lays on its back.

While watching his son stare at a mobile hanging over his crib, Cao realized they could put the sensor in a crib mobile.

Chiao and Cao will be testing the device with the School of Nursing in the university’s Smart Hospital, a simulated hospital environment. Chiao said they want to do further testing to make sure the device performs accurately.

Officials at the Smart Hospital could not be reached by press time.

Chiao said that when testing is done in the simulated environment, they will begin testing at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. He expects all of the testing to take about five years.

Cao and Chiao, who have patented the device, will meet with a company next week about commercially producing it, but they aren’t focused on making a profit.

“If we can save one baby, it will be worth it,” Chiao said.

Scottish Festival
Photo Gallery


Astronaut!: 11 a.m., 7 p.m., Planetarium, Chemistry and Physics Building. The latest immersive full-dome planetarium show. Experience a rocket launch from inside an astronaut’s body and explore inner and outer space. Admission is $5 for adults; $4 for seniors and children; $3 for faculty, staff and alumni; and $2 for students. For information, contact Tammara Webber at 817-272-1185 or twebber@uta.edu, or go to thier website.

Old Testament Archaeology — Major Digs: noon, 311 UTA Blvd. Material written by Dr. James Fleming, director of the Biblical Resource Center in Jerusalem, will be used for the study and supplemented with material from Biblical Archeology Magazine. Free admission and food. Bring a Bible and pen. Hosted by the Wesley Foundation. For information, contact Kent Seuser at 817-274-6282 or wesfnuta@swbell.net. Also June 21 and 28.

Full Calendar