An inexpensive device for monitoring breathing and airflow in noninvasive ventilator systems such as COVID-19 ventilator helmets is being made widely available through an open collaboration.
Noninvasive ventilators are a form of respiratory support that is gentler on the lungs and involves a plastic helmet placed over the patient’s head to deliver an enriched oxygen environment. But at the onset of the pandemic, hospitals needed specialized machines to monitor the breathing patterns and flow of oxygen to patients.
In spring 2020, in response to the call from the University of Pennsylvania hospital system (Penn Medicine), researchers from across the Princeton University campus came together to design and build a device to monitor airflow and measure patients’ breathing. They assembled the flow meter from inexpensive and readily available parts.
The flow meter sits by each patient’s bedside, feeding data to a centralized panel where medical staff can monitor the conditions of numerous patients. The machines monitor the flow of oxygen to the patients and provide a detailed record of each patient’s respiration and other data to help doctors follow the progression of the disease.
Their goal is to help medical professionals provide optimum care for patients being treated for COVID-19 and other respiratory disorders, while minimizing mortality and adverse long-term effects. The Princeton flow sensors provide new monitoring capabilities compared to what is commercially available and can do so at a lower cost.
The University has released all details of this technology publicly. A Brooklyn, New York-based company, Nanotronics Health LLC, plans to build and distribute the flow meters to hospitals and other patient settings.
"The goal is to help patients with COVID-19, and to be able to work toward that goal was just tremendous. We have had involvement at all levels: faculty, students, postdocs, staff. It’s amazing.”
– Andrew Leifer
Princeton Open Ventilation
Assistant Professor of Physics and
View team members:
The technology is being commercialized
by Nanotronics Health LLC. The
University is releasing all details of this
technology publicly and has not filed for
any patents or IP protection.
National Science Foundation