ApneaDetector: Detecting Sleep Apnea with Smartwatches

Xianda Chen, Yifei Xiao, Yeming Tang, Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Guohong Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted. Polysomnography (PSG) is the standard clinical test for diagnosing sleep apnea. However, it is expensive and time-consuming which requires hospital visits, specialized wearable sensors, professional installations, and long waiting lists. To address this problem, we design a smartwatch-based system called ApneaDetector, which exploits the built-in sensors in smartwatches to detect sleep apnea. Through a clinical study, we identify features of sleep apnea captured by smartwatch, which can be leveraged by machine learning techniques for sleep apnea detection. However, there are many technical challenges such as how to extract various special patterns from the noisy and multi-axis sensing data. To address these challenges, we propose signal denoising and data calibration techniques to process the noisy data while preserving the peaks and troughs which reflect the possible apnea events. We identify the characteristics of sleep apnea such as signal spikes which can be captured by smartwatch, and propose methods to extract proper features to train machine learning models for apnea detection. Through extensive experimental evaluations, we demonstrate that our system can detect apnea events with high precision (0.9674), recall (0.9625), and F1-score (0.9649).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3463514
JournalProceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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