Fitbit has introduced its new easy to use and low-cost ventilator, Fitbit Flow earlier this week. Notably, the ventilator has received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the United States.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing need for ventilators across the world, Fitbit used its expertise in hardware design and advanced sensor development to come up with a low-cost ventilator system. It doesn’t require much expertise or training to use, making it suitable for deployment in the current overwhelming situation caused due to the COVID-19.

Fitbit Flow: An Emergency Ventilator for the COVID-19 Crisis

Fitbit Flow is an automatic resuscitator-style ventilator, replicating the function of the manual resuscitation bags used by paramedics and EMTs in the field. The resuscitator is a medical equipment used to restore respiration in an unconscious person who is not breathing to keep the person oxygenated and alive.

Emergency ventilators such as Fitbit Flow have gained much traction during the global COVID-19 crisis. These kinds of ventilators can be manufactured using relatively affordable and easily accessible components as compared to the standard medical ventilators usually used in the hospitals.

The American fitness gadget manufacturer said that its design is particularly effective because of the right combination of sensors, automated alarms, and other supplementary patient-monitoring features supporting the process of automated resuscitation.

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The Fitbit ventilator has been inspired by the MIT E-Vent Design Toolbox.  Moreover, it has been based on specifications for Rapidly Manufactured Ventilation Systems. The Fitbit team had also consulted with the Oregon Health & Science University emergency medicine clinicians caring for COVID-19 patients at OHSU Hospital. Furthermore, it also worked with the Mass General Brigham Center for the COVID Innovation working group to better understand and meet the needs of healthcare professionals.

The need for such emergency use ventilators has somewhat reduced in the past few weeks. But, it is likely to resurge in case of subsequent waves of COVID-19 transmission.  These ventilators are not intended towards replacing the existing ventilator systems but rather to fill in gaps in overwhelming times like the present. Thus, the FDA has granted Fitbit Flow, emergency use authorization and the permission to start manufacturing with its existing partners, in case the need arises.  

Ventilators like the Flow aren’t designed to replace existing, traditional medical ventilators — instead, they’re intended as stopgaps, to be used only when that hardware isn’t available in quantities needed to treat patients.