An open source respirator could help fight coronavirus

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Hackaday has issued a call to arms in the ‘ultimate medical hackathon’ to help design an open source version of a respirator that could be widely produced and deployed with the aim of aiding those suffering at the hands of coronavirus.

As we’ve already seen in Italy, hospitals face issues around the numbers (and maintenance) of medical equipment designed to provide respiratory aid. 3D-printed valves have already come to the rescue of a hospital in Brescia which needed replacement valves for so-called ‘reanimation’ machines (because the normal supplier couldn’t provide them due to disruption caused by coronavirus).

However, this is a broader call to supply respirators more widely, and a particular kind of device – some types of respirator have problems in that they aerosolize the virus, dispersing it into the air which means that those around a patient being treated will almost certainly become infected.

Plan of action

Hackaday observes: “What we need is a Nasal cannula-based NIV. This system humidifies air, mixes it with oxygen and then pushes a constant stream of it into people’s lungs.

“If we can design a simple and working system we can give those plans to factories around the globe and get these things made. If the factories fail us, let’s also have a version people can make at home.”

The challenge is to get a working design as fast as possible, and get it out being manufactured in some form as mentioned.

There have been a lot of constructive responses to the project thus far, and Hackaday is also pushing for folks to consider other DIY anti-coronavirus measures, like making DIY n95 air filter masks at home.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).