Sensors for Respiratory Care



Respiratory devices supply respiratory gas mechanically to patients with impaired respiratory function. The respiratory gas is usually enriched with oxygen and conveyed into the lung with a positive pressure generated by the device.

The main modern respiratory devices for airway management are anesthesia systems, CPAP machines, invasive and non-invasive ventilators and oxygen concentrators. Modern respiratory devices automatically adjust the inhalations and exhalations to the patient's needs. Respiratory devices are available in various versions – as emergency respiratory devices for rescue application, long-term respiratory devices for intensive care and mobile home respiratory devices. An important feature when controlling (triggering) high-quality respiratory devices is the early detection of the patient's inhalation phase via a flow trigger. Only in this way can the device assist a spontaneous breath with a preset overpressure, while keeping the patient's respiratory effort to a minimum. At the same time, the measurements need to be highly accurate over the entire flow range for many treatments in order to detect the patient's respiratory pattern reliably. In today's respiratory devices, the spontaneous breathing effort and entire respiratory activity of the patient is therefore usually monitored by a highly sensitive thermal mass flow sensor or a highly dynamic differential pressure sensor. In addition, the set respiratory pressure and tidal volume administered to the patient must be monitored precisely in respiratory devices in order to ensure safe functioning and hence treatment success.

sensors for anesthesia
sensors for CPAP
sensors for invasive ventilator
sensors for oxygen concentrator

TE Connectivity provides pressure, temperature, position, vibration, and CO2 detection sensors to monitor and manage the ventilation system for a smooth, filtered, and efficient transition of air. These special sensors detect minute flow rates around the zero point of the respiratory flow and also measure flow rates of several hundred l/min. We also develop and manufacture customized multi-sensor modules as a simple plug-and-play solution for respiratory devices. The modules integrate multiple sensors to form fully calibrated and tested systems with signal processing and definite interfaces.

Pressure, temperature, position, vibration, and carbon dioxide detection sensors provide accurate feedback to monitor these respiratory systems. For example, anesthesia machines use a blend of gases that are mixed and delivered in precise amounts. To ensure safety, multiple sensors can provide redundancy and feedback on flow, pressures, and more vital data. This information requires not only accurate sensors, but stable designs and robust manufacturing for longer, reliable life-cycles. In a simple explanation, an anesthesia machine will have multiple lines. Each line contains a specific known amount of gas such as nitrogen oxide, oxygen, or isoflurane. Filters, regulators, and valves ensure the patient receives the right mixture and amount of each gas. 

Sensors must be accurate, reliable, and sensitive enough for medical professionals to verify and monitor the performance of the anesthesia system. For example, we manufacture medical sensors sensitive enough to detect minute flow rates around the zero point of the respiratory flow, and measure flow rates of several hundred liters per minute. Also, with years of experience, we use technology and designs to manufacture durable sensors that are less susceptible to drift and fatigue. There are many sensors that make medical devices work effectively.

As medical devices evolve, we also develop and manufacture customized multi-sensor modules that deliver simple plug-and-play solutions. The modules integrate multiple sensors to form fully calibrated and tested systems with signal processing and user-friendly interfaces. Plug-and-play designs reduce time and cost associated with assembling, maintenance, and replacing medical devices. As healthcare costs and demands increase, we continue to deliver accurate, cost-effective, life-saving technology with the end user in mind.

Technology is miniaturizing medical tools to improve and expand services beyond healthcare facilities.  Adding more highly accurate, sensitive sensors to devices reduces the amount of weight on a patient both figuratively and literally. For example, long-term oxygen therapy uses sensors and an oxygen concentrator to reduce the cost, size, and weight compared to using only an oxygen tank. An oxygen concentrator is a combination of a compressor, valves, and filters. These components filter nitrogen out of the air and can produce over 90% pure oxygen that can reduce the need for heavy, large oxygen tanks. While oxygen concentrators can produce a continuous flow, sensors have advanced to make these devices smarter and consume less power that improve the level of care and mobility for patients. While oxygen therapy is used in medical facilities for many reasons, it is expanding into homes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and respiratory failure.   


Portable application increases the challenges and importance of oxygen concentrators to be efficient and user-friendly. MEMS and load cell-based sensors can conserve oxygen and monitor tank levels to improve mobility. Our medical sensors are sensitive enough to accurately detect when a patient is inhaling and exhaling to better regulate the flow of oxygen. A patient inhaling can trigger a preset overpressure to help them breathe while detecting exhalation can stop the flow of oxygen to reduce waste, cost, and expand how far or how long a patient can travel. 

As oxygen therapy expands, sensors and connected devices are working together for even more precise control. Accurate sensors with reliable microcontrollers can change the flow of gases based on a patient's activities or needs. We deliver pressure, temperature, position, and humidity sensors able to drive these innovations. We have years of experience in producing small, efficient, cost-effective products that help patients breathe easier while promoting mobility, connectivity, and better quality of life. 

CPAP devices are used to force breathable air into the lungs of patients who suffer from sleep apnea, where breathing unintentionally starts and stops during sleep.  Detecting and curing the interval breathing cessation during overnight sleep helps to reduce the risk of hyper blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and relative secondary diseases. Sensors allow for the continuous, accurate control of air flow, pressure, vibration and humidity to keep patients comfortable and safe.

Photo optic sensors help doctors to diagnose the sleep apnea. Measuring blood oxygen concentration is one of the vital signals to measure the efficiency of breathing during sleep. Sometimes patients complete the action of breath, yet do not inhale enough oxygen into their lungs; consequently, the oxygen concentration in the blood is reduced significantly. Photo optic sensors includes both photo optic components and complete sensor solutions. The pulse oximetry (SpO2) probe platform includes reusable finger clips, soft silicone boots, and a range of disposable sensor assemblies.


Pressure measurement is crucial to the CPAP system in terms of performance and accuracy. Board mounted pressure sensors are embedded throughout the device, starting with the air chamber. Pressure sensors, such as the MS4515 series, can measure the pressure and feed information to a display with more accurate readings than a traditional needle gauge. Carbon dioxide levels during exhalation can be calculated using a differential pressure sensor. By using a differential pressure sensor that can measure a difference in pressure of two inches of water column, the CPAP system can better understand the CO2 output of the patient to adjust the input pressure.


Piezo film is used in sleep apnea diagnosis equipment and CPAP devices to help doctors and patients to know the status of breathing. Rhythmic breath is a key indicator of good sleep, which the piezo film can detect by measuring vibrations during the breathing process. Sensors are available directly in the vent to measure humidity and temperature from a single device. Temperature and humidity sensors with digital output signals can be embedded close to the mask to get the most accurate measurement of inhalation. Air temperature is usually maintained around 40°C within a 0.3°C accuracy. With the added distance from the controls by being located at the mask, the digital output signal avoids signal attenuation.