RespiraWorks, a nonprofit innovator of ventilators for developing countries, and Integrated Computer Solutions (ICS), creators of sophisticated embedded and touchscreen-enabled devices, announced a partnership to collaborate on RespiraWorks’ open-source ventilator. The medical-grade device, which can be assembled for under $500, is being designed for long-term vs. crisis use and for developing countries with the intent to source and manufacture locally.
RespiraWorks was formed in April by a volunteer collective of mechanical, process, electrical and controls engineers with knowledge in life support and critical engineering applications. Founder Ethan Chaleff, who currently works on designing ocean wave renewable energy, started out as an EMT and planned to go to medical school before deciding to tackle climate change through engineering. He has a PhD in nuclear engineering and has worked on nuclear safety systems, and is a former NASA and Department of Energy Fellow.
“While most teams are addressing the need for “bridge” type ventilators to keep someone alive for six to eight hours, we are not aware of anyone tackling the ventilators for longer-term needs in an open-source, supply chain-optimized manner, and that’s where this team provides value,” said Chaleff. “Vital to the success of our ventilator is the design in terms of ease of use, intuitiveness and efficacy. The ICS team’s deep expertise in Human-Machine Interface and embedded touchscreen devices will be instrumental in that, and we are grateful for their generous support.”
Specializing in both user experience (UX) design and software engineering, ICS’ work spans modern user interfaces, connected products and touchscreen-enabled applications — everything from high-performance medical devices, smart agri-business equipment and air traffic control systems to connected restaurant equipment, next-gen video surveillance and in-vehicle infotainment systems for Tier 1 automakers. Medical device and life sciences companies such as Thermo Fisher, Boston Scientific and MilliporeSigma look to ICS to help create vital products, including defibrillators, radiation therapy systems, infusion pumps, and respiratory and intelligent ventilation devices.
ICS’ founder and CEO Peter Winston was intrigued by this project because while the immediate need for ventilators may pass, the need for lower-cost medical devices is enormous. The key to solving this problem lies in the fact that over time, open-source software reduces costs and improves quality. By delivering quality software quickly, ICS will help this project demonstrate how safe, highly usable medical-grade software can be built in a fraction of the time.
“When RespiraWorks approached us, I was immediately impressed with the team and their unique mission to develop a ventilator that aims to solve the ‘second wave’ of the COVID-19 crisis,” Winston said. “Many companies are working on building ventilators for immediate crisis use. What we’re focused on is developing low-cost devices for the anticipated second wave, for patients who must remain on the devices for long periods of time.” He continued, “We feel privileged to be part of this very special project and didn’t hesitate to devote our own resources. A ventilator that can be built from inexpensive, readily available parts using open source software will be a game-changer in countries with developing economies.”
RespiraWorks is interested in speaking with medical professionals, engineers and makers in developing countries who might need additional ventilators in the coming months and collaborating with anyone who is working on similar projects. The 501(c)(3) pending organization welcomes donations to help continue its critical work.