The changing carbon dioxide content of a breath creates a waveform shape of the inhalation and exhalation that has been established as an indicator for several medical conditions. Called capnography, the equipment needed to detect this is large, expensive and mains-powered, which has restricted its use to monitoring anesthesia in operating theaters and critical care.
Gas Sensing Solutions (GSS) is changing this with its innovative CO2 sensor technology. The company uses a specially developed LED as the light source at the heart of the sensor. As this can turn on and off almost instantaneously, readings can be taken at more than 50 times a second. The LED also requires very little power, enabling battery-powered CO2 sensing devices to be created with long battery lives.
This breakthrough in CO2 sensing is being commercialized for the medical market by GSS' sister company, Cambridge Respiratory Innovations Limited (CRiL). GSS has exclusively developed an ultra-fast, compact version of its SprintIR®6S CO2 sensor for CRiL to provide the level of accuracy needed to produce detailed waveforms and to work in the challenging medical environment. This has enabled CRiL to develop a hand-held personal respiratory monitor, called N-Tidal™, which analyzes CO2 levels in normal tidal breathing.
The research, development and feasibility studies for N-Tidal have taken four years, which has been funded by CRiL's shareholders, the UK government (through Innovate UK) and charities. CRiL has just secured a £900,000 development contract from the NHS to create the market-ready monitor for use in clinical studies that will lead to N-Tidal being registered for medical and patient use. Advanced prototypes of this innovative technology have already been used to investigate a range of conditions from asthma to cystic fibrosis, and from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease to congestive heart failure. CRiL's development contract comes from SBRI Healthcare, an NHS body that funds innovations with a positive impact on patient care and which will save the NHS money.