IoT-enabled ventilator developed by UTS Rapido Vietnam
A low-cost ventilator system to address severe acute respiratory failure in people suffering from COVID-19 has been developed by HCMUT Rapido, a technology transfer unit at Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology, in partnership with UTS.
Thousands of lives have been lost during the pandemic due to a severe shortage of ventilators, making it critical to be able to manufacture ventilators quickly and cheaply, as well as allow medical staff to monitor multiple ventilators simultaneously and remotely.
The Rapido team at HCMUT completed the low-cost prototype in early April 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam. The first prototype demonstrated functional non-invasive mechanical ventilation, or CPAPs (continuous positive airway pressure). Its most innovative function is an assist control, which helps find the optimal air intake and adapt with the patient’s condition rather than forcing a patient to breathe with a fixed frequency.
Using an IoT platform allows medical workers to remotely monitor patients and ventilators – a critical asset during the peak of the pandemic, with the medical workforce severely stretched by a large number of patients.
HCMUT Rapido was established as part of the Aus4Innovation project UTS Rapido Vietnam. The team owns the technology and use open source, meaning that mass production to meet a surge in demand is possible, once the technology is certified, said Associate Professor Pham Tran Vu, Chief Investigator, Ho Chi Minh City University of Technology.
This ventilator is still in early prototyping stage. The version we are developing is a complex system. Apart from ventilation, it also has sensors to monitor various aspects of patient health. It also needs to meet strict requirements of a healthcare product. Therefore, we need to proceed carefully and recognise that it may take some time have the system working with real patients.
The team now plans to develop an endotracheal tube for invasive ventilation to avoid the risk of aerosolizing the virus to the air. The team also plans to use sensors and IoT technology that allow doctors and technicians to monitor multiple ventilators simultaneously and remotely.
In addition, the team used a cheap 3D printer to design and print simple yet effective mask holders to alleviate the irritation caused by continuous mask wearing for doctors and nurses on the front line. Thousands of these mask holders have been delivered and are currently being used.
UTS Rapido Vietnam: academics from across the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS secured funding under Aus4Innovation, a DFAT scheme that aims to deploy emerging technologies and effective partnership models, and to strengthen innovation – a pillar of the bilateral relationship between Australia and Vietnam.
The project applies Industry 4.0 technologies in different projects across Vietnam and is a milestone in the Faculty’s thriving engagement in Vietnam, which has seen UTS emerge as a key driver for research and industry collaboration between the two countries.
The UTS project team is working with national universities and local industry in Vietnam, as well as industry partners from Australia, in close collaboration with the Joint Technology and Innovation Research Centres in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.