Vision-based Sensing of Respiration in Preterm Infants

Degree type


Closing date

29 October 2021



Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International Onshore

About the research project

This project is to investigate the potential for improved sensing of respiration, including respiratory pauses (apnoea), in preterm infants while receiving respiratory support in neonatal intensive care. This forms part of a larger NHMRC-funded “PANDA”* study investigating the performance of systems for sensing and predicting apnoea in preterm infants.

Current sensing of respiration in neonatal intensive care is routinely through inductance plethysmography via ECG electrodes. Unfortunately, this is often unreliable especially during apnoeas where the heartbeat may be misconstrued as respiration, and impacts care and health outcomes. More reliable sensing of respiration will improve care of these infants, and our preliminary research suggests vision-based sensing is a potential solution.

In this project, vision-based sensing systems, including colour and infrared imaging, will be developed for continuously detecting respiration in preterm infants during respiratory support in intensive care. Vision systems will be camera-based and capable of continuous monitoring for extended periods. Novel image processing methods for extracting respiratory motion from the recordings will be developed, utilising conventional and machine learning approaches, and used to extract respiratory motion from the recordings. Respiratory motion will then be characterized over the study period, including periods of apnoea, and compared to routine and other respiration monitoring recorded during PANDA data collection, and performance determined in detecting clinically useful respiratory information including apnoea.

The outcomes of the project will be a thorough investigation of vision-based systems for sensing of respiration and potentially a vision-based apnoea monitoring system for clinical use which would be a significant advance in preterm care.

This project will be based in the School of Engineering at the University of Tasmania and involves close liaison with the Neonatal and Paediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Hobart Hospital.

*PANDA: Prediction and novel detection of apnoea in preterm infants (NHRMC Ideas Grant 1182515).

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Tim Gale


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,597 per annum (2021 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


The project is open to domestic (Australian and New Zealand) and international applicants who are already in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting their application.

Due to current Australian COVID-19 travel restrictions the University cannot accept applications from international applicants who are currently overseas.

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select the project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Tim Gale, if you have any questions about the project; and
  3. Click here to submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email.

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