Ventilators have become synonymous for emergency care. Unfortunately, due to their high cost, not every hospital and patient in the world can afford them. The good news is that the world’s smallest and cheapest ventilator has been made in India, revolutionising critical care. This ventilator can be purchased by all levels of hospitals from primary care hospitals to tertiary care hospitals. The scope of its commercialisation is quite huge.
The new ventilator is the result of a joint effort between Professor Diwakar Vaish, head, robotics and research, A-SET Training & Research Institutes, and Dr Deepak Agrawal, professor-neurosurgery at AIIMS, New Delhi.
“We met during a programme in AIIMS and there we discussed various challenges that our healthcare system is facing currently. Out of all the problems, we centered on ventilators, due to lack of which precious lives are being lost. From there on we decided to work together to make a cheaper and more efficient ventilator. Our main aim was to create something that is cheap, easy to run and portable,” shared Prof. Vaish.
The technology was developed by A-SET with medical inputs from AIIMS.
The new ventilator developed by A-SET together with AIIMS
Conventional ventilators are very expensive (costing ₹ 1-1.5 million each), extremely big (1-1.5m tall and around 61cm wide and deep) and complicated, requiring medical staff to run them. In addition, these need constant oxygen supply to run, which costs around ₹ 2000-3500 per day.
A-SET Robotics’ ventilator overcomes these problems as:
1. It is around a hundred times cheaper at ₹ 15,000.
2. It has the size of a compact disk, so it can fit into the user’s pocket.
3. It doesn’t require oxygen supply and can circulate room air to the patients.
4. No professional expertise is required to control it. It can be operated by just a smartphone via Bluetooth interface, which makes it extremely easy to use. Also, in case of any problem, one may reach out to the provided helpline numbers, and it can be controlled remotely by the central team.
How it works
A machine learning algorithm understands the patient’s inhale-exhale pattern and controls air pressure and flow rate to the patient as per the best settings:
1. A pressure sensor monitors the relative pressure of the patient’s air passage over 1000 times a minute
2. The pressure reading is then sent to a computing unit, which calculates if it’s inhale phase or exhale phase
3. In inhale phase, the air is induced at a controlled pressure and sent at controlled rate to the patient
4. Upon sensing that the lung is filled to the right capacity, the air flow is stopped
5. Thereafter exhale phase is sensed for the patient
6. Once exhale phase is sensed, another air channel is selected for exhaling the air from the lungs to the atmosphere
This is an extremely time-critical operation as inhale and exhale happen within a time span of 1-2 seconds. Even slight delay in computing can hamper the entire process. Hence there is hardly any setting required for the ventilator and the entire process can be managed by the ventilator itself without requiring the services of any health practitioner.
Acceptance and validation
The new ventilator has brought hope to thousands of those patients who have complete body paralysis and have been hospitalised for many years. Now, they can afford a ventilator and get back to their homes. This ventilator can be used in all the situations where normal ventilators are used, such as in hospitals, ambulances and even homes.
Prof. Vaish explained, “Although the innovation is breakthrough, we still face some basic functional challenges. Like, in manufacturing, the process to obtain certifications is slow and tedious. We are applying for major global certifications and hope to get them in the near future. We already have two patents credited for our product.”
Mechanism inside the ventilator
“Technically, mistakes and innovations go hand-in-hand. We tried various sensors and different algorithms. At times, the members of team thought it was impossible. However, it is through consistent efforts and hard work that we won. We finally succeeded after over 50 iterations,” Dr Vaish added.
The road ahead
The team wants its product to penetrate as deep as possible. It is looking for support from the government as well. It is also open to partnership with other companies, especially those in medial domain. The team hopes that the product reaches to people in need not just in India but throughout the world. It wants the sales to cross 50,000 units next year.