An artificial respirator is essentially a piece of equipment that helps a person with breathing problems, so common these days thanks to the COVID-19, to breathe normally, transferring the effort that the lungs must make to receive the air, to a machine that does that job.
In fact, at this time when a pandemic is attacking the whole world, artificial respirators are one of the most demanded products by hospitals in the middle of COVID-19. Demand for these devices has increased dramatically, and many companies in industries such as automotive and electronics, have temporarily refocused their manufacturing to meet this demand, and a company like NVIDIA could not be left behind.
The NVIDIA artificial respirator
This is how one of the NVIDIA scientists – yes, the company that develops video cards – has decided to put his intelligence to work for humanity by creating an open source artificial respirator that is very affordable and can be quickly assembled using pre-made parts.
From the mind of Bill Dally, NVIDIA’s chief scientist, came OP-Vent, a respirator developed in just a few weeks and now seeking emergency approval from the FDA (the authority charged with regulating medical devices, among other things, in the United States) to begin full-scale production.
For $400 and assembled in 5 minutes
In a video published by Dally, he explains that the artificial respirator is able to accurately measure the flow and pressure of the air it sends out, after successfully testing it on an iron lung. As it is open source, all its design, code and instructions are available free of charge to anyone who wants to set it up.
According to its creator, for the development of the artificial respirator he focused on the two essential components that are readily available: a proportional solenoid valve and a microcontroller. With these two parts, the ventilator can be assembled in minutes, everything is mounted on a fixed panel and assembled in a transport case. If you have the parts at hand, it only takes 5 minutes to assemble them.
As far as prices are concerned, Bill Dally explains that he built the model for about $400, which could be reduced to about $300 if it is mass produced and up to $100 if 3D printed parts are used. To put these prices in context, a traditional artificial respirator can cost over 15,000 euros.
With these two parts, the ventilator can be assembled in minutes, everything is mounted on a fixed panel and assembled in a transport case. If you have the parts at hand, it only takes 5 minutes to assemble them.
This project, which is more than welcome and will surely be of enormous help if it is finally approved by the FDA, is based on two important advantages: it is very cheap and very easy to manufacture.
However, as the weeks go by it is becoming clear that in the end the artificial respirators are not as effective as they seemed. Recently, Dyson, the world-renowned manufacturer of vacuum cleaners, indicated that the respirators they were developing for the U.K. government were no longer needed.
However, whether they are still needed or not, there are many people with breathing problems who could be saved at any time by a device like this in their own home.
Good job for NVIDIA, which in times of crisis has focused its ingenuity where the world really needs it. Small initiatives of a brilliant mind, capable of helping the world.