Home / Science / Health /  Covid-19: Fitbit develops low-cost ventilator for emergency use

NEW DELHI: Fitbit has developed a low-cost emergency ventilator, Fitbit Flow, for use in hospitals amid the covid-19 crisis. The ventilator is based on MIT's E-Vent design toolbox and has been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

The Google-owned wearable company plans to supply the ventilators to healthcare providers around the world that do not have enough traditional medical ventilators.

Fitbit Flow has been developed with input from emergency medicine clinicians at Oregon Health & Science University who have been actively involved in the treatment of covid-19 patients at OHSU Hospital.

A working group from Mass General Brigham Center for Covid Innovation also helped with the design.

The Fitbit ventilator builds on standard resuscitator bags, like those used by paramedics. It has in-built sensors and alarm system that work together to support automated compressions and patient monitoring.

"Fitbit Flow is a great example of the incredible innovation that emerges when academia and industry employ problem-based innovation to respond quickly to an important need," David Sheridan, MD, MCR, assistant professor of Pediatric Emergency Medicine and co-director of Emergency Clinical Innovation at OHSU said in a statement.

It’s critical that solutions are developed that can help ensure health systems have the equipment they need now, and in the future if there is a resurgence of covid-19, Sheridan added.

India is among the countries that may face a huge shortage of ventilators if covid-19 cases continue to grow. According to news reports, the country has around 50,000 traditional ventilators.

To overcome this shortage, several startups and institutions have come forward with low cost ventilator prototypes for emergency use which can be manufactured quickly. Though efficacy of many of them are yet to be tested, news reports suggest some are being considered by Indian hospitals.

The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune has developed a low-cost mechanical ventilator, which can be locally manufactured.

Bengaluru-based Ethereal Machines has developed a ventilator splitter using 3D printing, which can split the oxygen supply into a 50-50 ratio to provide oxygen from one source to two patients at the same time. It has a more advanced version which can split the oxygen supply into 30-70 ratio, providing more oxygen to patient who is more critical than the other. The splitter is being tested at Aster Hospital in the city.


Abhijit Ahaskar

Abhijit writes on tech policy, gaming, security, AI, robotics, electronics and startups. He has been in the media industry for over 12 years.
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