A new device to help tackle sleep apnea has claimed first prize in the ARM Smart Product Design Competition. The Apnea Observer was designed by developer Clemente di Caprio from Rome, Italy, who has been awarded $5,000 to help advance his prototype. Sleep apnea affects up to a quarter of the general population according to the British Journal of Anaesthesia, with 90 percent of sufferers remaining undiagnosed. If left untreated, this chronic sleep condition can lead to serious health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and weight gain.

The competition was launched in February 2015 to raise awareness of how easily products can be designed with ARM CMSIS software components and middleware. It attracted more than 700 entries, with 350 moving to the development phase where entrants could choose to work with ARM Cortex-M processor-based development boards from Freescale, Infineon, NXP or STMicroelectronics. Fourteen entries were selected as finalists, with the three prize-winners chosen by a panel of judges including Jens Nickel (Elektor), Reinhard Keil (ARM) and Christopher Seidl (ARM).

Other winners awarded prizes of $500-$3,000 include:

Stephan Lubbers of Dayton, USA, for his WhereSat portable ham radio satellite finder
Waldemir Cambiucci of Sao Paulo, Brazil, for his water consumption monitoring system with web interface
Fernando Lichtschein of Buenos Aires, Argentina, for his framework for IoT workshops
Bernhard Schlo? of Tübingen, Germany, for his CamBot with optical image recognition.

“It was impressive that so many participants with limited experience of ARM technologies completed projects in the short timespan available,” said Reinhard Keil, director of microcontroller tools, ARM. “This has reinforced our confidence that CMSIS and ARM tools are easy to learn and use. The ready-to-use software components also proved flexible enough for use across a diverse range of applications and enabled seamless access to a range of different ARM-based microcontroller families.”

The winning Apnea Observer monitors sleeping noises and detects acute sleep irregularities. The application runs on the NXP LPC4330, a dual-core microcontroller that combines the ARM Cortex-M4 and Cortex-M0 processors. The Cortex-M4 performs the audio analysis, making use of its integrated digital signal processing functionality, while the Cortex-M0 handles the data acquisition and storage. The device also engages the ARM Keil MDK-Professional file system component and CMSIS-Drivers to interface with the memory card and serial and audio capabilities.