Fitbit races to help COVID-19 patients by developing an emergency ventilator
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Have you heard of the Fitbit Flow? No, it’s not the latest fitness tracking app for watersports. Instead of water flow, it’s airflow.
Fitbit has secured an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA for a new device, the Fitbit Flow. It will be a low-cost emergency ventilator that can be used to help with patient needs surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic that is still gripping many parts of the world.
Fitbit said that after seeing the tremendous need for ventilators across the nation and, indeed, around the world, it pivoted and applied its deep in-house brainpower in advanced sensor development and hardware design to create the Fitbit Flow.
The device is a type of automatic resuscitator that is inspired by the MIT E-Vent Design Toolbox and is based on specifications for Rapidly Manufactured Ventilation Systems.
During the development and testing phases, Fitbit consulted with emergency medicine clinicians at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) in Portland who are caring for COVID-19 patients at OHSU Hospital. Fitbit also worked with the Mass General Brigham Center for COVID Innovation on the design to make sure it meets the needs of practitioners.
“COVID-19 has challenged all of us to push the boundaries of innovation and creativity, and use everything at our disposal to more rapidly develop products that support patients and the health care systems caring for them,” said James Park, co-founder and CEO of Fitbit. “We saw an opportunity to rally our expertise in advanced sensor development, manufacturing, and our global supply chain to address the critical and ongoing need for ventilators and help make a difference in the global fight against this virus.”
How Fitbit Flow Works
Once complete, the Fitbit Flow ventilator will build on standard resuscitator bags, like those used by paramedics, with diagnostic instruments, sophisticated sensors and alarms that will work together to allow for automated compressions and remote patient monitoring.
Fitbit Continues Move to Healthcare Market
This isn’t Fitbit’s first healthcare rodeo, either. The company is weeks away from launching a large-scale study to validate the use of its wearable technology to help in identifying atrial fibrillation in patients. Back in 2017, Fitbit stepped into the diabetes arena through a collaboration with DexCom, allowing the San Diego-based firm to add its continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) data to the Fitbit’s Ionic smartwatch.
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