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

Airing in the New Year

Airing in the New Year

Happy New Year from The Airing Team!

Thank you all for your continued interest, patience, and support. We’re excited for all the hard work and progress that lies ahead in 2016 and are currently on schedule with our original goal to make the Airing micro-cpap available mid-2017.

A few Airing team members gather to welcome 2016 (snow and all) in front of our building in Burlington, MA

A few Airing team members gather to welcome 2016 (snow and all) in front of our building in Burlington, MA

Meet Ras...

Meet Ras...

Meet Ras, one of our engineers working to prototype Airing’s micro-pumps. Ras has over 12 years of experience manipulating novel micro-scale structures, and we are fortunate to have him on our team. Over the past couple of months, he and the rest of our engineering team have been researching, identifying, and experimenting with materials to find the best choice for our micro-blower technology.

In this photo, Ras is analyzing the material (we aren’t able to say which) that has passed all of our processing experiments. With these tests, we have successfully demonstrated that this material will:

  • be safe, inexpensive, and readily available enough for use in the Airing device

  • stand up to the processing required to manufacture our micro-blower’s components

  • provide the proper structural support needed for the blower’s components

  • exhibit and maintain the necessary elasticity for full functionality of each blower

Now that we have identified a suitable material (and its supplier), our next step requires patterning this material using micromachining techniques so that it can conduct electricity to power each micro-blower and successfully pump air.


Stay tuned for more updates on our progress!

 

The Airing fundraising campaign is now InDemand on Indiegogo.

Click to contribute today!

Honey, I Shrunk the CPAP

Honey, I Shrunk the CPAP

As most of you already know, what makes Airing such a revolutionary product is its compact size. While CPAP treatment has already been established, vetted and proven effective, what makes using a traditional CPAP device unbearable is that it’s an eight pound machine complete with attached cords, hoses and a mask. How could a traditional CPAP device be replaced by something so simple and small yet be capable of producing equal results?

 

We’ve heard this question a lot since we unveiled the design of our prototype–in meetings with sleep apnea experts and scientists, on Facebook, from friends and family–  it seems too good to be true. This question eventually led to the realization that, while the design makes physical and mathematical sense to its inventor and engineers, most of us cannot fathom how a device this small could deliver the requisite pressure to maintain airway patency for effective therapy.  

 

To explain how this is possible, we have to start with a miniscule technology platform called MEMS, or micro-electro-mechanical systems. Paul Saffo, futurist and Director of the Institute for the Future, calls MEMS “the foundational technology of the next decade”. Also referred to as “Smart Matter”, MEMS evolved in the 80’s from the process technology in semiconductor device fabrication, and has become an increasingly popular option for product development in a variety of fields. Hearing aids, insulin pumps, and even the mobile phone in your pocket utilize this technology to improve functionality.

 

Most MEMS devices are composed of layers of polysilicon deposited on a substrate from which specific etchings are made, leaving a 3-D structure. This functionally-designed structure includes electrical components (known as sensors) that process environmental data while mechanical elements (known as actuators) act in response to that data– an amazingly complete system within an impressively small chip. An example of how this technology is applied is found in car airbags. MEMS sensors can determine the specific deceleration in force representative of a crash and alert the actuators to immediately deploy the airbag. The tiny MEMS devices are sensitive and compact enough to respond instantly and effectively.

 

The majority of MEMs devices range from 20 micrometers to 1 millimeter (0.02 mm to 1 mm). For reference, human hair is about 0.1 mm thick. Take a look at the image below: an example of a MEMS device (not a part of Airing) taken using a SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope). SEMs take photos using the shorter wavelengths of electrons to get a better resolution than is possible using only light, which is made up of longer wavelengths. 

Drive gear chain and linkages, with a grain of pollen (top right) and coagulated red blood cells (lower right, top left) to demonstrate scale. This is merely representative of MEMS construction and scale and is not a part of the Airing device.  source

Beyond being fascinatingly small, there are plenty of reasons to use MEMS over other macro structures. First, choosing to employ MEMS can significantly reduce the cost of production because they can be made using the same fabrication techniques used in the integrated circuit (aka computer chip) industry. Also, MEMS are often composed of a material that is inexpensive, high-quality, readily available, long-lasting, and highly receptive to electronic functionality. And, there are fewer parts to manufacture, buy, and integrate into the product. These micro-systems can adapt to fulfill a diverse range of needs, from pumping very small, precise doses of insulin into the body, to steering entire aircrafts based on airflow changes on the wings.

 

All of this leads us to the birth of the concept of Airing, when its inventor-to-be Stephen Marsh, who was very familiar with MEMS, had an “Aha!” moment. After speaking with his brother, David, who was noncompliant with his CPAP treatment, Stephen realized that MEMS technology might be utilized to provide equivalent CPAP therapy in the form of a tiny “micro-CPAP device.” And not only that, using MEMS would allow Airing to perform a repeated bellows-like action over a long period of time without fatigue and with energy-efficient electrostatic actuation.

 

Marsh also realized that this technology could enable Airing to:

  • Shrink traditional CPAP mechanics down to the size of a grain of salt without sacrificing the treatment CPAP provides.

  • Speed the time-to-market by employing a more efficient supply chain and simplified design.

  • Keep costs down since each device will contain such a small amount of relatively inexpensive material.

  • Integrate electronics into the micro-structures for collecting and retrieving important user data to improve therapy.

  • Produce three million of these micro-pumps in one minute using a Roll-to-Roll manufacturing process.

 

Fast forward to where we are now–our proof of concept prototype phase of development. We’re continuing to identify and locate the most appropriate materials, equipment, engineering firms, and experts to help us turn our design into reality. Once we have it built, we will begin testing to make sure it is fully capable of delivering the right amount of pressure, with the right amount of power, for a long enough period of time. We are excited to communicate our technical developments (as much as we can while safeguarding our Intellectual Property) so that you can observe the development of this innovation alongside us.

 

If you think this tiny technology is as cool as we do, we encourage you to do your own research, share your thoughts, and invite your friends to follow us as well. We want to continue to grow a bigger community around this small device to change the lives of sleep apnea sufferers forever.

 

In the coming weeks, we will have a peek at a part of the micro-structures we are building from our own SEM to share with you. Stay tuned.

 

More info on MEMS:

What is MEMS Technology?:

https://www.mems-exchange.org/MEMS/what-is.html

Examples of MEMS in everyday use:

http://www.memsindustrygroup.org/resource/resmgr/Images/Infographic_large.jpg

 

Dr. Michael J. Cima of MIT joins Airing's Technical Advisory Board

Dr. Michael J. Cima of MIT joins Airing's Technical Advisory Board

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Michael J. Cima has joined Airing’s Technical Advisory Board. Dr. Cima brings a wide range of scientific and entrepreneurial experience that will enhance our effort to develop Airing’s micro-CPAP device, a revolutionary alternative to treat sleep apnea.

 

Dr. Cima is a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has an appointment at the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.  A graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.S. and PhD), he joined the MIT faculty in 1986 and became a full Professor in 1995.  He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 2011 and now holds the David H. Koch Chair of Engineering at MIT.

 

Professor Cima is author or co-author of more than 250 peer reviewed scientific publications, more than 50 US patents, and is a recognized expert in the field of materials processing.  He is a co-inventor of MIT’s three dimensional printing process.  He and his collaborators develop technologies for single compartment drug delivery,  implanted microelectronics, nanotechnology for diagnostics, and high throughput technology for discovery.  

 

Professor Cima also has an extensive entrepreneurial background.  He is the co-founder of MicroChips Inc., a developer of microelectronic based drug delivery and diagnostic systems. He helped start Transform Pharmaceuticals, which was ultimately acquired by Johnson and Johnson Corporation. Professor Cima is also a co-founder and director at T2 Biosystems, a medical diagnostics company.  Most recently, he co-founded SpringLeaf Therapeutics, a specialty pharmaceutical company, and Taris Biomedical, a urology products company.

 

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Cima join Airing. He is a valuable resource who adds another exciting dimension to our team of scientists and engineers.  I am pleased that he has agreed to join us and I look forward to his active involvement in our effort to develop this breakthrough technology," says Airing’s President Stephen Marsh.

 

"I get excited about working on important clinical problems where patients benefit.  Airing is innovating to address the most important issue from the patient perspective in CPAP therapy: patient comfort”, shared Professor Cima.

 

We welcome Dr. Cima and look forward to benefitting from his expertise and experience.

Airing Prototype Progress Update: 10/9/15

Airing Prototype Progress Update: 10/9/15

Hi Airing Supporters,

As a company born of the crowd (you), we place enormous value in communicating our progress to everyone who has contributed to the development of the Airing prototype. Airing is a lean and mean team and we are determined to keep you updated on our progress while we execute our primary mission of meeting or exceeding our timeline to get this device into your hands.

We are delving into uncharted territory here and couldn’t be more excited. As far as we know, we are the first to develop a breakthrough technology from such an early stage with this large of a supportive community behind it. As you know, the technology in Airing has never been assembled in this way before. The formfactor of Airing–from the nosebuds to the micro-blowers–has never existed before. The price-point we’re targeting would have been laughable even a few months ago. Therefore, the ultimate existence of Airing may very well be seismically disruptive to the sleep apnea treatment industry.

Given this anticipated disruption, it will not always be in Airing's or your best interest for us to publicly announce many of the trade secrets or specifics of our development. As excited as we may be to share which engineers we work with, materials we incorporate, or equipment we consider utilizing at certain stages, doing so could breach contracts, impede our progress, and significantly delay Airing's release to the public. That’s something we cannot risk.

But you don’t need to worry. We intend to find the right balance between protecting our technology and sharing important progress with you. Today, we want to give you a few updates on the early stages of Airing's proof of concept prototype, straight from the keyboard of Airing inventor, Stephen Marsh:

 

  • As a direct result of Airing’s crowdfunding campaign, we have been introduced to a number of significant companies and have engaged in several very promising technical discussions. These conversations have led us to an alternative approach to prototyping that should accelerate the proof of concept process.

  • We are now under contract with several specialty engineering firms, all of which are busy helping us facilitate prototyping the proof of concept micro-blower devices.
  • We have also identified a set of materials and processes that will allow faster prototyping of the proof of concept micro-blower devices.

  • We are evaluating the possibilities of several major equipment purchases that could give us more control of our schedule and timing.

  • We are eagerly expecting important results from some of our material processing experiments that will help us select which of the parallel paths we have designed is most appropriate to pursue.

  • We are continuing to work on many of the various aspects of the prototype in parallel (including micro-blower construction, nosebud and case design improvement, and sustainability options) to reach the testing phase as efficiently as possible.

 

Of course, the creation of a technology this new does not happen overnight. But we are making significant progress and remain on schedule. We will continue to keep you posted in the coming months.

Stay tuned for more.

The Airing fundraising campaign is now InDemand on Indiegogo.

Click to contribute today!

 

Airing Progress Update: 9/21/15

Airing Progress Update: 9/21/15

The support we have received is humbling–there are over 10,000 of you who have supported our efforts! All this attention has kept us busy, but we want to take time to update you on what we have been doing as well as what to expect as we continue to develop Airing.

Question:  What Will Airing Cost?

Question: What Will Airing Cost?

Answer:  The short answer is $3 per Airing device, or $0.60 after insurance reimbursement. But it's important to understand the technology behind Airing to appreciate how we plan to produce the device at such a low cost per unit.

The technology.

The invention of the micro-blowers is the technological breakthrough at the heart of the Airing micro-CPAP device. The power source is based on a similar technology Polaroid used in their film packs because it is powerful, mass manufacturable and inexpensive. The integrated electronics are analogous to those in the Kodak disposable cameras. Again, small, mass manufacturable and inexpensive. The rest of the device is low cost rubber and plastic. Each component is small, inexpensive and integrated, so the aggregate result is a very small, highly efficient, tightly integrated device.

Manufacturing.

The Airing device is designed to be mass manufacturable so as to reduce the cost and allow it to be a single use device. Both the micro-blower technology and the power source can be made using the roll to roll process, an extremely efficient system. The integrated electronics takes advantage of semiconductor processing that is well proven in low cost consumer product manufacturing. The rubber and plastic parts use high speed injection molding, again very cost effective.

By adopting the best design and manufacturing practices from successful consumer products in the areas of health and electronics, we are able to deliver a device that has an end user price of about $3.00, making it inexpensive enough for single use.

Insurance Reimbursement.

We are hopeful that the FDA will view the Airing device as a variant of the existing accepted CPAP therapy and clear its sale as such. If they do, then it is reasonable to believe that the insurance companies who provide reimbursement for this type of equipment and treatment will do so for the Airing device. If the customary reimbursement rate of 80% is available, this would reduce the cost of the Airing device to the consumer to approximately $0.60 per day.

Prove your compliance to your insurance company.

The integrated pressure sensors and electronics that control the Airing device are able to track the patient’s breathing cycle and deliver the proper treatment. The appropriate data can be stored for subsequent retrieval. This built in feature can be used for proof of compliance. That will help with reimbursements. 

The Airing fundraising campaign is now live on Indiegogo.

Click to contribute today!

Question: How Will Airing Deal With Mouth Breathers?

Question: How Will Airing Deal With Mouth Breathers?

What we found in our research with a non-working prototype was that the nose buds, while very comfortable, had a beneficial side effect of a slight opening of the nasal pathways. We believe that improving nose breathing will significantly reduce or eliminate mouth breathing. If a little extra help is needed, a comfortable chin strap could be used.