A low-cost emergency ventilator for use during the Covid-19 public health emergency
Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, even extraordinary innovation. Take the case of Fitbit, the American maker of wireless-enabled wearable devices such as activity trackers and smartwatches; after seeing the global need for ventilators, this San Francisco-based firm applied its in-house expertise in advanced sensor development and hardware design to quickly create Fitbit Flow, an automatic resuscitator inspired by the MIT E-Vent Design Toolbox and based on specifications for rapidly manufactured ventilation systems. Plainspeak, its creation is a high-quality, low-cost, easy-to-use emergency ventilator (Fitbit Flow), which has obtained Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for use during the Covid-19 public health emergency.
“Covid-19 has challenged all of us to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity, and use everything at our disposal to more rapidly develop products that support patients and the health care systems caring for them,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “We saw an opportunity to rally our expertise in advanced sensor development, manufacturing, and our global supply chain to address the critical and ongoing need for ventilators and help make a difference in the global fight against this virus.”
Fitbit Flow builds on standard resuscitator bags, like those used by paramedics, with sophisticated instruments, sensors, and alarms that work together to support automated compressions and patient monitoring. The device is designed to be intuitive and simple to use, potentially helping to reduce the strain on specialised staff who are typically needed to operate a commercial ventilator. Other similar emergency ventilators vary in the combination of features they offer, but Fitbit believes that none delivers all of the attributes of its device at the same lower price range.
Fitbit consulted with Oregon Health & Science University emergency medicine clinicians caring for Covid-19 patients at the OHSU Hospital and worked with the Mass General Brigham Centre for Covid Innovation working group on the design to meet the needs of practitioners.