Engineers and medical professionals from King's College London and the University of Oxford have demonstrated another rapidly-producible ventilator design, which they hope will help address the shortfall of equipment in the face of growing COVID-19 cases worldwide — and have pledged that the Arduino-powered design will be released as open hardware.
Led by Dr. Federico Formenti and Professors Andrew Farmery, Mark Thompson, and Alfonso Castrejon-Pita, the OxVent design — like a number of others, including those proposed for the Open Source Ventilator project — aims to take the pre-existing manual bag valve mask (BVM) ventilator, also known as an "ambu-bag," and automate it so that it can serve as an emergency replacement where traditional self-operating ventilators aren't available.
The design is split into two parts. The ventilator itself is housed in a laser-cut perspex box, which is filled with pressurized air to collapse the BVM and push air into the patient's lung; when the pressurised air is switched off, the bag re-inflates ready for the next breath. The pressurised air, meanwhile, is controlled using a separate box which provides a simple user interface through switches, dials, and a simple LCD character display.
While still very much in the prototype stage — the control box houses an off-the-shelf Arduino Uno board, a solderless breadboard, some prototyping board, and a tangle of jumper wires in addition to the control interface hardware — the system was filmed in operation by the UK's Sky News and appears to be delivering on its promise. Those behind it, in fact, say they are already prepared to begin human testing, having proven the concept on a resuscitation dummy as well as a commercial "test lung" system.