The current gold standard for detecting and distinguishing between types of sleep apnea is expensive and invasive. This paper aims to examine the potential of inexpensive and unobtrusive thermal cameras in the identification and distinction between types of sleep apnea. A thermal camera was used to gather video of a subject performing regular nasal breathing, nasal hyperventilation and an additional trial simulating one type of sleep apnea. Simultaneously, a respiratory inductance plethysmography (RIP) band gathered respiratory data. Thermal video of all three trials were subjected to Eulerian Video Magnification; a procedure developed at MIT for enhancing subtle color variations in video data. Post magnification, nasal regions of interest were defined and mean region intensities were found for each frame of each trial. These signals were compared to determine the best performing region and compared to RIP data to validate breathing behavior. While some regions performed better, all region intensity signals depicted correct breathing behavior. The mean intensity signals for normal breathing and hyperventilation were correct and correlated well with RIP data. Furthermore, the RIP data resulting from the sleep apnea simulation clearly depicted chest movement while the corresponding mean intensity signal depicted lack of cyclical air flow. These results indicate that a subject's breathing behavior can be captured using thermal video and suggest that, with further development and additional equipment, thermal video can be used to detect and distinguish between types of sleep apnea.

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Conference 37th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBC 2015
Bennett, S.L. (Stephanie L.), Goubran, R, & Knoefel, F. (2015). The detection of breathing behavior using Eulerian-enhanced thermal video. In Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS (pp. 7474–7477). doi:10.1109/EMBC.2015.7320120