Sleep apnoea prevention system in the running for prestigious design award

Wednesday 6 August 2014

The square Swinburne logo on the west side of the Advanced Manufacturing and Design Centre building in Hawthorn.

A revolutionary sleep system to prevent sleep apnoea, which has been created by a Swinburne University of Technology researcher, has been named as a finalist in the prestigious Premier’s Design Awards.

The sleep system, designed by Swinburne Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology researcher, Dr Ambarish Kulkarni, is among thirty-eight finalists in the awards.

Dr Kulkarni worked with local company Snugfit Australia Pty Ltd on the project, which was co-funded by the Victorian government.

“I wanted to design a pillow and sleep system to prevent sleep apnoea that was comfortable, affordable and effective,” Dr Kulkarni said.

“This research has used cutting edge information and communications technology (ICT) systems - specifically virtual reality and augmented reality tools - to reduce the design cycle and improve the effectiveness of ergonomic support systems targeting sleep apnoea.”

Sleep apnoea occurs when the walls of the throat come together or collapse during sleep, blocking off the upper part of the airway. A person with this disorder might have a sleep disturbance hundreds of times every night. Symptoms may include daytime sleepiness and poor concentration.

Sleep apnoea has been linked to other severe health problems, such as high blood pressure, and may increase a sufferer’s chance of having a heart attack and/or stroke.

Traditional sleep apnoea treatments are invasive and expensive.  They can include wearing a mask or a mouth guard at night to help keep airways clear.

“The sleep system is less invasive and involves a specially designed pillow and bed,” Dr Kulkarni said. “It works by ensuring the user maintains a position and incline level while asleep to improve breathing, comfort and reduce snoring.

“In addition, this sleep system offers modularity with an option of twelve variations, so it can suit different users.”

The pillow is already being sold in Australia and overseas, while there are plans underway to market the sleep system nationally and internationally.

The Premier’s Design Awards provide an opportunity for businesses and the community to better understand the role of design in making products and services more functional, efficient and attractive, and ultimately increasing productivity and business outcomes.

All finalists are in the running to receive the Best in Category and Premier’s Design Award of the Year, which will be announced at the Premier’s Design Awards presentation ceremony next month in Melbourne.