The ventilator, called Fitbit Flow, is a low-cost, high-quality and easy-to-use automatic resuscitator.
Fitbit ventilators: Fitbit has developed emergency ventilators to help tackle the shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, Fitbit said that the co-founders had asked the teams to use their expertise in sensor technology, signal processing, hardware design and robotics to develop solutions that could help the country during the pandemic. A small team of researchers, designers and engineers then came up with the ventilator, the company said.
The ventilator, called Fitbit Flow, is a low-cost, high-quality and easy-to-use automatic resuscitator, developed with the objective of providing ventilation during any emergency. Inspired by the e-vent developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the ventilator has been developed based on the inputs from clinicians looking after COVID-19 patients at the Oregon Health and Science Hospital and the MassGeneralBrigham Center for COVID Innovation.
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The statement quoted Fitbit co-founder and CEO James Park as saying that the pandemic pushed everyone, including Fitbit, to use innovation and creativity and come up with solutions to tackle the pandemic-induced problems. Hence, the company decided to use its sensor development, manufacturing and global supply chain to tackle the shortage of ventilators.
Fitbit Flow: How was the ventilator developed?
Using the inputs from clinicians and understanding from previous research, the team developed a prototype, which was based on the manual resuscitator bag used by paramedics in emergencies to manually resuscitate a patient.
The statement said that the idea behind Fitbit Flow is to provide mechanical ventilation in the absence of a commercial ventilator. Senior Staff Research Scientist Dr Tony Faranesh was quoted as saying that physicians are trying to figure out who would get the ventilator in case of shortage and the ethics around it, so Fitbit aimed to fill that shortage and use this ventilator for patients who might not get ventilators otherwise.
Challenges in building Fitbit Flow
The team had to develop the ventilator remotely, since everyone had been placed under a lockdown due to the pandemic. Dr Faranesh was quoted as saying that since the lockdown was in place, the team had to work round the clock, working in isolation as well as together to come up with the product during these special circumstances.
Fitbit said that it has received the Emergency Use approval from the FDA, and the ventilator can be used during the coronavirus pandemic in situations where no conventional ventilators are available.