NZSM Online

Get TurboNote+ desktop sticky notes

Interclue makes your browsing smarter, faster, more informative

SciTech Daily Review

Webcentre Ltd: Web solutions, Smart software, Quality graphics

Quick Dips

A Warmer Time for Neonates

New Zealand is an acknowledged world leader in technically advanced hospital equipment providing life-giving warmth for newborn babies, but now new research has led to pinpoint accuracy in detecting and compensating for the movement of the tiny babies cared for on infant warmers.

Infant Warmers made by Fisher & Paykel's Healthcare division use special infrared heating systems to deliver precise warmth to tiny babies. The equipment is in demand by hospitals around the world as an essential element in the care of premature, low birthweight and ill infants.

The company's technology lead will be extended through development of a new, sophisticated, computer-controlled process that can detect infant movement in the bassinet.

For the past 16 months University of Auckland student, Matthew Payton, has been working with his University supervisor, Professor Tom Barnes, and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare engineers to develop the new process, with funding assistance provided under Technology New Zealand's GRIF (Graduates in Industry Fellowships) Programme.

Using an infrared projector and video camera, Payton was able to develop a system that scans the bassinet and records any movement, without disturbing the baby. The information is mathematically processed and can be used in a variety of ways.

"The information could direct the warming source to follow the movement of the baby, so that it maintains the same level of warmth. Because the system is so sensitive, it may be able to detect the breathing and heartbeat of the baby, which has obvious monitoring applications," he says.

The F&P Infant Warmers are already world leaders in design and operation, particularly in the use of the special infrared heating unit which ensures even warmth is directed over the infant and not outside the bassinet.

"A static warming system is fine if the baby remains still and in one place, but we know that they move around in the bassinet, thus reducing its effectiveness. Matthew's research has provided us with a means to precisely measure the baby's movement on the mattress," says Chris Hutchinson, Product Manager at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare.