Mass Generals’ CoVent-19 Challenge to Build VOX Ventilator

Mass Generals’ CoVent-19 Challenge to Build VOX Ventilator

We are thrilled to announce that fuseproject/CIONIC’s winning ventilator design, VOX, has been selected to pursue manufacturing and distribution!

The CoVent-19 Challenge is an open innovation effort founded by Mass General Hospital residents and anesthesiologists to close the gap between available resources and ventilator shortages around the world. Out of more than 200 submissions, ours is one of two winning designs selected to continue efforts in manufacturing, and eventually, validation testing and FDA approval. The two-round challenge aimed to present initial concepts and finalize CAD assemblies as part of the first phase, followed by a shortlist of finalist teams delivering functional prototypes in the final phase. The delivery of the final prototype is the result of continual collaboration and engagement with respiratory therapists (RTs), ICU nurses, and doctors who supported and informed the team’s goal of delivering a user-friendly, high-precision form factor that is easily assembled and adaptable to multiple healthcare settings.

This competition, designed to drive collaboration and innovation, relied on the time-tested truth that coming together across disciplines to create new solutions to a crisis can be key in fostering major breakthroughs. Our partner, CIONIC, is a medical technology startup with a mission to build a platform for precision bionics that powers people to transcend physical limitations. Collaborating with fuseproject from onset, they utilized their expertise in analysis of physiological signals, predictive modeling, and actuation of the human body to engineer the high-precision, low-cost modular ventilator architecture. 

Our final design, VOX, is a rapidly deployable, pneumatically driven ventilator that prioritizes modularity, uses off-the-shelf solutions, and is optimized for a Covid-19 healthcare context. VOX costs less than $1,000 to produce and can be assembled in under 4 hours.

VOX utilizes the ubiquitous IV pole to enable speedy and simple mounting, height adjustability for user comfort, easy transport, and efficient storage. Its built-in dashboard functionality allows for remote monitoring and operability from a single desktop computer or tablet for up to 4 ventilators, which drastically reduces personal exposure to disease and contamination.

In an effort to fully understand and prioritize the needs of various hospitals experiencing shortages, the team first looked closely at the context. Learnings from this presented clear opportunities to innovate for efficiency of storage, simplified manufacturing, and use of multifunctional equipment through design thinking and new technology. Our team convened with ICU nurses, respiratory therapists, and doctors throughout the process to gather information about the existing context and where users saw opportunities for improvement. We were able to partner closely with them to continue soliciting feedback as our design evolved, leaning on their real-life, in-the-field experience using and being around ventilators in the Covid-19 context.

While ventilator care can be a life-supporting treatment, it can also cause fatal injuries from overstretching or force-inflation. This is a particular area of concern with the usage of plastic bag-valve resuscitators, also called Ambu bags, which have the potential to fluctuate in shape over time and develop variability in its delivery of ventilation. VOX’s pneumatic valve ventilation system offers the most reliable, consistent, and safe method of supplying oxygen and is designed around 3 key principles: Intuitive user experience, Simplified architecture, and Intelligent manufacturing.

The CoVent-19 Challenge has partnered with the African Federation for Emergency Medicine (AFEM) which employs over 2,000 emergency medicine clinicians across 26 countries in Africa. In collaboration with AFEM and following regional regulatory approval guidelines, a pilot program will be launched in Nigeria. We look forward to the opportunity to work with them!

Finally, we would like to express our immense gratitude and thanks to all the ICU nurses, respiratory therapists, anesthesiologists, doctors, and patients that consulted with us every step of the way. We are grateful to each and every one of you for your support on VOX, and more importantly, for your dedication and commitment as caregivers and healthcare professionals during this unprecedented time.

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