OpenLung, the Open Source Ventilator group’s prototype
Topline: A group of 300-plus engineers, designers, tech founders and others galvanized on Facebook with a goal of building a ventilator using readily available materials, 3D printing and open-source hardware resources. In just seven days, they built a prototype that will be tested as a solution to the global ventilator shortage by Irish authorities as early as next week.
- According to OSV cofounder Colin Keogh, 31, the technology will be tested by Ireland’s Health Services (HSE) next week for use on Covid-19 patients
- The Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates up to 960,000 coronavirus patients may need ventilators for life support, the Associated Press reported.
- Ventilators, which function by blowing air into a patient’s lungs, are an essential treatment for severe cases of Covid-19. In those cases, lung inflammation can develop into viral pneumonia, requiring ventilated breathing support.
- The prototype from the Open Source Ventilator project’s Ireland group can be assembled from PLA plastic, which is derived from renewables like sugar cane or corn starch and can be manufactured anywhere from a 3D printer
- Gui Calavanti started the Open Source Ventilator project on Facebook on March 11. It has since been worked on by more than 300 doctors, engineers, designers, nurses and venture capitalists.
- Cavalcanti’s primary role is CEO and cofounder of Breeze Automation, which designs low-cost robots for extreme environments like deep sea and outer space, according to Cavalacanti’s LinkedIn
- Keogh says HSE has made its approval process for medical technology much faster and looser during the current emergency, meaning the ventilator will likely be not be used for patients not suffering from Covid-19, though he sees it being used in other emergency and disaster scenarios
- Accenture, Deloitte and other companies have offered use of their R&D infrastructure to assist in the ideation and production process, said Keogh
- The Open Ventilator Project remains open to interested parties, and has a participation request form on its website
According to Keogh, the speed at which this project went from idea to being tested by health authorities highlights the power of open-source as a way to solve hardware problems. “It doesn’t matter where you are, it doesn’t matter what your skillset is, what time zone you’re in, if you can contribute in a group to these large scale projects, you can have very high-impact results in a very short amount of time,” he says.
Key background: Keogh and his fellow Open Source Ventilator Ireland leader David Pollard primarily work as the cofounders and innovation consultancy Sapien Project. Connall Laverty, founder of cloud platform Wia, joins the OSV leadership. (Keogh and Laverty are both Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees.)
Tangent: New York will reportedly require 18,000 ventilators soon, according to The New York Times. The publication also reports that in a pandemic of this nature New York could be short 15,783 ventilators to treat the most severe cases. Ventilator manufacturers could increase production, according to Forbes., but have yet to receive significant order volumes from the U.S. government.