A Significant Step Forward

Tom Mood, a member of the Airing development team, adjusts the settings on a laser micromachining system in the manufacturer's facility.

Tom Mood, a member of the Airing development team, adjusts the settings on a laser micromachining system in the manufacturer's facility.

 

I want to share that we have overcome one of the biggest barriers to our progress: securing access to the critical equipment we need so that we can control our own destiny! When you are working hard to get a technology developed and a product out the door and into the hands of the people who desperately need it, you must do many things in parallel. We have been doing just that, from the very start. But we have been frustrated by the limited access to a laser system, which is critical to the fabrication of key components such as the mirco-blowers.

 

Explaining the Problem

The tiny parts of the micro-blowers are made by a laser micromachining system. These laser systems are very expensive, costing up to $1,000,000 or even more. Our strategy, as a small startup company, was to buy time on one of these systems at an outside company. We did find a suitable subcontractor to perform the laser micromachining on the micro-blowers and we were able to turn out our first parts for testing early this year, but this took longer than expected. Development is an iterative process and by July we announced that the latest revision of micro-blowers could blow air, an exciting milestone, but later than expected. The cause of these delays had one thing in common, our reliance on an outside service where we had no priority access to the laser micromachining system. This had to change!

 

Creating a Solution

Because of your tremendous support and enthusiasm, a number of world class companies have approached Airing with interests in helping us develop, manufacture and deliver our micro-CPAP device to the millions of people who need it. One such company has put, right in our hands, priority access to the laser micromachining system we need, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now, finally, we can really accelerate the iterations and push to a working prototype.

 

The Consequence

With priority access to the necessary equipment we can at last work at a quick and steady pace. Our original estimated timeline on Indiegogo showed prototyping being completed by 3/16, but given where we are now, this is likely to be more like 3/17. This delay pushes the product shipping out to 7/18; a year delay, as shown on the Revised Estimated Timeline on Indiegogo. And while the development of the micro-blowers has been slower than we planned, we have always been working on other aspects of the Airing device. For example, even further refinements of the nose buds have been made. Another strategic business relationship – this one with a brand-name battery company – can provide Airing with zincAir battery expertise. And prototyping of several other key components of the Airing micro-CPAP device is complete.

 

A Promise

Now that we have removed our biggest constraint, access to equipment, we will push relentlessly to make up time. We will continue to make progress in our parallel efforts: testing, sensing, battery, manufacturing, and other components. And we will continue to keep you up to date.

We sincerely appreciate your patience, and assure you that it will be worth the wait.

- Stephen Marsh and The Airing Team

New Study Finds Massive Cost of Undiagnosed and Untreated Sleep Apnea

A new report has discovered the hidden cost of undiagnosed and untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and it is concerning. Only 20% of Americans with OSA are properly diagnosed, roughly 5.9 million of the 29.4 million with OSA. That means nearly 23.5 million Americans with OSA are undiagnosed and remain untreated leading to severe health problems which results in massive economic costs - over $149 billion according to a recent study by Frost & Sullivan commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). 

The study found that diagnosed OSA cost $12.4 billion in 2015 or $2,105 per person. This figure includes diagnosis/testing/follow-up appointments, non-surgical remedies (like CPAP and oral devices), and surgical treatments. However, undiagnosed OSA cost the American economy $149.6 billion or $6,366 per person. This figure includes workplace accidents, lost productivity, motor vehicle accidents, and comorbid diseases. The majority of the comorbid diseases include hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

According to the Frost & Sullivan report, the reason for OSA going undertreated so often is because of the 5.9 million who are diagnosed only about 60% of those will remain compliant with their treatment. This is generally because of the uncomfortability and inconvenience of CPAP devices. While they are properly diagnosed with OSA, they are not properly treated, resulting in similar consequences as if they had never been diagnosed at all.

Attributes associated with making one more vulnerable to OSA include being older, male, a minority race, have a high body mass index, large neck circumference, craniofacial abnormalities, are menopausal, and those with health risks such as smoking and alcohol use.

The loss of productivity due to OSA is so large that employers like AAA Foundation, Google, and the Huffington Post are realizing the benefits of diagnosing and treating OSA to help offset the costs of undiagnosed OSA. According to a Frost & Sullivan survey of 506 U.S. patients actively treating their OSA, there was a reported 40% decline in workplace absences and 17.3% increase in productivity after OSA treatment was initiated.

“Society undervalues sleep, instead valuing and lauding people that do not prioritize sleep because of a perception that they are more serious in their careers. Sleep apnea is associated with increased mortality, but it does not end up on anyone’s death certificate and thus the urgency to address the problem is not felt,” says Dr. Nathaniel Watson about OSA and the value of a good night’s sleep. Dr. Watson is the current AASM president, co-director of the University of Washington Sleep Center and director of the Harborview Medical Center Sleep Clinic.

According to the study, the best way to decrease this massive toll on the US Economy is to raise general awareness about OSA, increasing primary physician care education about OSA, and properly diagnosing and treating OSA. Patients should actively seek out advice from medical professionals about their OSA risk level as well as encouraging their friends and family to be diagnosed.

 

While this report focuses mostly on the economic cost of untreated OSA, it also describes some of the health threats associated with the condition. We are happy to highlight this report and hope that it will encourage OSA sufferers to seek treatment.

- The Airing Team

Airing Welcomes Herm Schneider to its Medical Advisory Board

MEET HERM SCHNEIDER

Photo provided courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.

Photo provided courtesy of the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago White Sox’s Head Athletic Trainer, Herm Schneider, is the longest tenured and most successful trainer in Major League Baseball (MLB). Over the last 14 seasons (2002-15), the White Sox have used the disabled list just 135 times for a total of 5,950 days, both the fewest totals in the MLB. His ability to prevent and rehabilitate injuries is a true testament to his knowledge and professionalism which will become a major asset as he joins the Airing Medical Advisory Board.

Mr. Schneider has accumulated a number of accomplishments during his 40 years in the MLB. He has been selected as Head Trainer for the American League All-Star team in 1983, 1991, 2003, and 2016. He and the Chicago White Sox staff received the 2006 Dick Martin Award for Medical Staff of the Year by Baseball Prospectus and was individually honored as“Trainer of the Year” in 2009. He has supervised major rehabilitation and conditioning programs for great players like Bo Jackson, Ozzie Guillen, Robin Ventura, Jake Peavy, and Michael Jordan.

His accolades extend beyond the baseball diamond. In 2007, he co-authored an article in the American Journal of Orthopedics on the evaluation of elbow and shoulder problems in professional baseball pitchers and was on the faculty of Northwestern University’s Institute of Medicine and Sports Law conference. In 2008, Mr. Schneider joined the faculty of the University of South Florida Sports Medicine conference.

 

“It’s exciting to be involved with a company and product that is on the verge of helping so many people with their sleep apnea and aid their overall health. Airing’s innovation will surely improve the quality of life for those who deal with this issue,” says Herm Schneider.

 

Mr. Schneider suffers from sleep apnea and is a strong supporter and advocate for others who struggle with OSA and their CPAP devices. Due to his personal experiences with traditional CPAP therapy, he eagerly decided to join the Airing Team.

 

“We are delighted to have Mr. Schneider on our Medical Advisory Board. Due to his long list of achievements as a professional athletic trainer and dedication to health and fitness, he will become a great ambassador to help spread awareness about sleep apnea and its correlation to a decline in performance both athletically and in everyday life. We are looking forward to working with him,” says Airing’s President Stephen Marsh.

Airing Prototype Update: Crossing a Major Milestone

Airing Prototype Update: Crossing a Major Milestone

RECAPPING THE YEAR

Just over one year ago, we anxiously shared our design for an invention to comfortably, effectively, and tolerably treat obstructive sleep apnea. Then, watching our story and campaign spread like wildfire, we came to fully realize just how many people were fed up with their current treatment options and ready for something radically better. With thousands of people contributing to our campaign, sharing our story, and offering to help, we were able to roll up our sleeves to begin delivering on this design.

Because of the amazing outpouring of support, we have been able to raise funds, move into a new space, hire team members, purchase equipment and materials, and make significant progress in turning our inventive design into a functional prototype.

 

GETTING PUMPED

In our last update, we explained that we were beginning to bench test the fully constructed components of the micro-blower technology. And now, we are beyond excited to announce that our micro-blower prototypes are officially moving air.  

Let us explain what this means.

Our recent bench testing has shown us that our pump membranes are successfully displacing air into and out of the micro-blower bodies when electrostatically actuated. With this important function tested and proven, we have crossed a major milestone in the construction of our proof of concept prototype. We can now shift our complete attention to controlling this airflow and building a net pressure: turning these moving structures into a working prototype of our technology and device. This function is a key aspect of our proprietary design and will be implemented in the coming months using standard MEMS processing and techniques.

 

Figure 1: Animation of membrane movement of single micro-blower.

Figure 1: Animation of membrane movement of single micro-blower.

Figure 2: Microscopic, top-down view of single micro-blower's membrane movement.

Figure 2: Microscopic, top-down view of single micro-blower's membrane movement.

 

In Figure 1, you can see an animation of our design for an electrostatically-actuated micro-blower that will move a membrane to displace air. And in Figure 2: a real, close-up recording of one of the first moving membranes of our micro-blower prototype. This top-down view of one of our micro-blowers was recorded deep in the heart of our technology prototype and magnified significantly for visibility. Because this movement is far too fast to see when operating at normal speed, we’ve shown it here being triggered manually.

 

LOOKING FORWARD

As you may have seen in our technology video, each of the displacement pumps (micro-blowers) in the Airing device have been designed to operate with opposing electrostatic charges in order to repeatedly expand and collapse, pushing out a pre-set, consistent, and powerful stream of air. There are hundreds of these micro-blowers assembled in parallel within the device, each pumping thousands of times a second. With all of the units working together, they will be able to achieve the flow rate required to maintain positive airway pressure for all prescribed settings.

We are proud to have successfully built our prototype micro-blower bodies and membranes and are now working to turn them into fully functional, pressure-building pumps. We have a lot of work to do before we can begin testing this pressure, but we are determined to bring the Airing micro-CPAP to those who need it as quickly as possible.We are grateful for the ongoing support and patience of our community. Thank you again.


And now, back to work in the Airing lab!

 

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Airing micro-CPAP Update Video

Airing micro-CPAP Update Video

 

We are now preparing to bench-test fully-constructed components of the micro-blowers. Without any major issues, we anticipate having a working prototype of this technology, which proves our basic concept, within the next few months. Though we originally predicted to have our prototype working in March, we have made so much progress since our campaign began and are thrilled to be this close to our original estimation. Once the proof-of-concept prototype is accomplished, we can integrate that technology into the device body and nose buds and attach a battery source so that we can begin the functional testing of the device as a whole.

Fortunately, we are ahead of schedule with the design and functional testing of our nose buds, which we have been continuously developing in parallel with our micro-blower prototype. We have also been in communication with several significant companies interested in helping us develop Airing into a commercial product. We have no doubt that these introductions and this progress would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of our community.

We wanted to give you a closer look at what’s happening in the Airing office and lab with a video update from Airing's inventor, Stephen Marsh.

Please enjoy the video, continue to share our story with friends, and stay tuned for more updates!

 

Airing Prototype Progress Update: 3/14/16

Airing Prototype Progress Update: 3/14/16

 

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been building and evaluating the various parts and pieces of the prototype for our micro-blower technology. We are very close to having the first fully-constructed micro-blower subassemblies completed. Once we have them, we will begin testing their functionality.

 

Today, we are excited to announce that, to prepare for this testing, we have just completed a key, customized component of our test system. This component, called a device under test (DUT) test fixture, will eventually allow us to test the operational performance of the micro-blower technology we have been building. Soon, we will be able to answer the important question: “Can these tiny micro-blowers successfully blow air?”

 

 

This DUT test fixture was designed and constructed to allow for airflow through the micro-blowers via two small air hoses connected to either side of our fixture. These air hoses will be attached to the two green ports pictured above. A sample sheet of our micro-blowers prototype, which is the device under test (DUT), is too small to see in this photo but lies at the center of the test fixture. With each test, we will be looking to see that the micro-blowers can draw air in from the Input port and blow that air through to the Output port. The output air will be monitored by separate instruments measuring airflow and air pressure. If the micro-blowers pump a net amount of air, and if an increase in pressure is measured at the output, then we know we have built working blowers and will have proven our basic micro-blower concept.

 

Having the DUT test fixture built puts us in a great position to complete our test system as we await the completed version of our fully-constructed subassemblies from our partners at a separate lab.

 

We will be sharing more updates with you as we near this exciting time in our development. And again, thank you to everyone who is following and supporting our progress!

 

THE AIRING FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN IS NOW INDEMAND ON INDIEGOGO.

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How (and Why) to Improve the Quality of your Sleep

How (and Why) to Improve the Quality of your Sleep

This week is National Sleep Awareness Week, a movement organized by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) to improve Americans’ sleep health before we all lose an hour of sleep this Saturday night for daylight savings. A recent study from the CDC found that even seemingly innocuous factors such as employment status, education level, marital status, and where you live could be correlated with how long and how well you are sleeping. They also reported that over a third of U.S. adults are not getting enough sleep.

We want to do something about that. So, in support of the NSF’s mission (#7Days4BetterSleep), we would like to share some of the best tips collected from studies in sleep research for improving the quality of your sleep, which will ultimately lead to an improvement in your quality of life. From changing your daily routine to talking with your doctor, we hope this information will help you achieve a better night’s sleep. 

 

Train Your Brain to Sleep Better

Current sleep research offers several simple, daily habits you can adopt in order to improve your sleep health. To start, try waking up at the same time every day (including weekends) in order to keep your brain and body on a consistent rhythm and to train yourself to fall asleep and wake up at the appropriate times. Also, make sure you fully wake up–which includes getting out of bed–the first time your alarm goes off, instead of hitting the snooze button. Snoozing can confuse your brain, interfere with your sleep/wake rhythm, and leave you feeling more tired and groggy later on.

During the day, it’s beneficial for your sleep to get some sunshine in order to strengthen your brain’s sleep/wake rhythm and at least 30 minutes of exercise to help you relieve stress. This will give you energy during the day while ensuring that you will be tired enough to fall asleep at bedtime. You should also avoid drinking caffeine too late in the afternoon, which can stay in your system and affect your brain well into the night. 

In the hours before going to bed, scientists recommend avoiding eating large meals, exercising heavily, drinking alcohol, checking email or social media, and using any devices with bright, “blue-light” screens–such as the TV, laptop, smartphone. All of these activities too close to bedtime keep you wired by interfering with your brain’s ability to produce the chemicals that will enable you to easily fall and stay asleep. Instead, you can read a good book (preferably fiction), write down your thoughts in a journal, lightly stretch, or even meditate in the time right before you intend on falling asleep. If you go to bed but cannot fall asleep, try not to force yourself into sleep– it will only further keep your mind active. Rather, get out of bed, and try one of these recommended activities for 20 minutes. Then, when you feel tired, go back to bed and let yourself drift off to sleep–it will be much easier. 

 

When Good Sleep Habits Are Not Enough

Hopefully, by integrating these tips into your daily routine, you will notice yourself falling asleep faster, sleeping more soundly, and waking up feeling more refreshed. However, it is possible that implementing all of these habits may not totally improve the quality of your sleep. Many people can not completely control their sleep health with changes in behavior, and what’s worse–they may have no idea that their sleep is even being disturbed. Unfortunately, sleep disorders are an unnoticed threat in our society, simply because when people are asleep, they have no way of noticing the symptoms they are experiencing. One of the most prevalent of these conditions is obstructive sleep apnea or OSA. 

 

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

OSA is typically caused by a blockage of the airway when the soft tissue in the rear of the throat collapses during sleep. It is closely related to snoring, in fact– OSA is often characterized by very loud snoring, followed by silence and then a gasp or choking sound, caused by the closing and reopening of the airway. While those suffering rarely notice these pauses in breath occurring (sometimes hundreds of times a night), their partners are often awakened by these events, which prompts a large portion of OSA sufferers to speak with their doctor and get diagnosed.

OSA takes a significantly negative toll on the daily lives of those suffering from the condition, as well as their partners. Its harm includes all of the damaging side effects of lack of sleep but combines the ill effects of repeated restriction of oxygen to the brain. These symptoms include daily excessive tiredness, mental fogginess, memory impairment, irritability, and headaches. As a result, it has been shown to also increase the risk of gaining weight, being involved in an automobile accident, and underperforming at work. 

Unfortunately, OSA also negatively affects the long-term health of its sufferers. If this condition goes unnoticed or untreated, it causes or contributes to a host of serious health problems, including chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease, stroke, and early-onset cognitive decline. It has been estimated that more than 25 million Americans are suffering from undiagnosed OSA.

 

How Do I Know if I have OSA?

The best way to prevent or treat this disorder is to talk to your doctor and find out if you need a prescription for treatment. Only a medical professional can accurately obtain the information necessary to make a diagnosis and get you on a path to sleeping and feeling better. However, our sleep experts recommend a popular screening quiz, called the STOPBang Questionnaire, for anyone wondering if they might be at risk for OSA. 

You can take this short quiz here: http://bit.ly/stopbang

If your score indicates a moderate to high risk of OSA, we encourage you to talk to your doctor about being tested.

Getting tested for OSA typically involves talking to your doctor and then being referred to a sleep specialist, who will conduct a sleep test. Your breathing and blood oxygen levels will be monitored while you sleep. This overnight test is either done in a hotel, a lab, or at home. The results of this testing will inform if treatment is needed and what the prescription for treatment should be. The most common and effective treatment for OSA is CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. This therapy requires wearing a mask over your nose and mouth while you sleep that is connected by a hose to a machine which provides you with enough airflow to keep your airway open throughout the night. This airflow keeps you breathing normally, and maintains a healthy flow of oxygen into your body and brain. Sadly, only about 50% of patients prescribed CPAP therapy are still compliant with their treatment one year later, a troubling statistic that we at Airing are working to improve.

 

Improve Your Sleep & Pass it On

We hope you will celebrate National Sleep Awareness Week by introducing some of the habits we’ve recommended, spreading the word about sleep health, and talking to your doctor about OSA. Sleep health is paramount to living a long, healthy, and happy life, yet millions of us are not getting enough sleep. Beyond that, millions of people suffering from OSA remain unaware, untested, untreated, or noncompliant. We want to end this epidemic of poor sleep by increasing public awareness of OSA and overall sleep health. And, we hope you will join us in making this change happen. 

 

 

THE AIRING FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN IS NOW INDEMAND ON INDIEGOGO.

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A Peek Inside Airing's Micro-CPAP Technology

A Peek Inside Airing's Micro-CPAP Technology

REMEMBER MEMS?

Back in November, we wrote a blog post to give some background information on the type of breakthrough technology we are developing for Airing. In it, we introduced you to MEMS, a type of micro-scale technology that is invisible to the naked eye, yet controls the advanced functioning of everything from cars to cell phones to implantable heart sensors. This technology lies at the core of what allows Airing to be free of the bulk, mask, straps, and hoses of traditional CPAP machines. In that same post, we also introduced the SEM, or Scanning Electron Microscope, a powerful tool we use for examining the micro-structures we are creating with maximum detail and precision.

In the time since posting that article, we have been busy constructing the prototype of our micro-blower body; carefully refining, testing, and analyzing using a SEM to get a final form that matches our unique design.

 

OUR (TINY) TECHNOLOGY

As you may have seen in our technology video, each of Airing’s displacement pumps will be operated with opposing electrostatic charges in order to repeatedly expand and collapse, pushing a constant stream of air up into the nose (think of an old-fashioned fireplace bellows). Pumping thousands of times a second and assembled in parallel within the device, these units will work together to achieve the flow rate required to maintain positive airway pressure.

A diagram of the technology behind Airing’s revolutionary approach to CPAP therapy.

The above diagram gives a clear picture of how the micro-blowers will function. But we want to give you a much closer look. The image below is a detailed close-up of a section of our micro-blower prototype, taken with a SEM. The features of the micro-blowers are measured in one millionth of a meter (one micron). For reference, 100 microns is about the width of a strand of human hair.

Micron scale micro-formed air channels of basic micro-blower.

Despite its size, air will be sucked into the grooved channels of this structure with the help of the electrostatic charge and fill each expanding displacement pump. Then, with an opposite charge, the pump body will collapse and the air will be pushed out to the other side.

 

BETWEEN THE SHEETS

In addition to constructing Airing’s basic pump body, we have identified a material that has proven to be among the safest, strongest, most elastic, and most cost-effective choice to use for our micro-blower components. We have begun patterning this material in sheets, the result of which can be seen in the photo below.

Sheet of latest version micro-blower component.

We are fabricating the components of our micro-blowers in large numbers in order to streamline the evaluation and analysis process. By patterning our pump body prototypes in large batches, we can move through this stage with improved efficiency. All of this patterning will serve to ensure that the material we have identified is able to reliably conduct electricity and provide proper structure to each layer of the micro-blowers.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to construct and evaluate our pump-body prototype and patterning in preparation for assembly and testing.

 

Stay tuned for more updates!

 

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Airing Welcomes Jeff Dayton to its Advisory Board

Airing Welcomes Jeff Dayton to its Advisory Board

 

Introducing Jeff Dayton

 

We are delighted to announce that Jeff Dayton has joined Airing’s Business Advisory Board. Jeff is an accomplished executive in Fortune 500 corporations and startup ventures. His 30 years of experience include CEO, CTO, and board roles. He loves finance and corporate strategy. He has a reputation for trust, leadership, and teamwork.    

 

JeffDaytonB&W.png

 

“Airing is one of the most exciting new ventures in the medical device space. Our MEMS technology has the potential to improve the lives of millions of sleep apnea sufferers,” - Jeff on his decision to join Airing’s Advisory Board.   

 

Currently Jeff is CEO of Alpha Funders, a top venture advisory and deal syndication firm. Previously Jeff has held corporate positions such as CTO of Liberty Mutual, Home Depot, and Belk.  In the high-tech space, he has held positions such as President of Softbase, Director at BMC, and CTO at VSPAN and GlobalSpec. He is an angel investor in Biothera (cancer biotech) and numerous startups.  

 

“Airing has assembled a talented and engaged team of advisors and professionals, and I'm delighted that Jeff has agreed to serve on our advisory board,” - Stephen Marsh, President of Airing.


Jeff splits his time between Charlotte, NC and Austin, TX.

 

News From the Airing Lab

News From the Airing Lab

what's in the box?

 

We are very excited because a huge, wooden crate has just been delivered to the Airing lab. Inside the box is a vital piece of equipment that will allow us to execute one portion of our micro-blower construction completely in-house!

 

Why is in-house development significant? Without it, we would have had to spend money renting time in other laboratories and hiring outside engineers to gain access to this equipment whenever we had to test, analyze, adjust, and retest a part of our prototype’s technology. Being on another lab’s schedule and having to ship materials back and forth would slow us down and potentially delay our development.

 

Having this machine right here in our lab will ensure that this portion of the prototyping process goes smoothly, efficiently, and best of all,  more quickly. If it weren’t for your contributions, bringing this phase of development of the Airing prototype into our lab would not be possible.

 

Now, where’s the crowbar?

 

delivery.jpg