Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is the treatment of choice for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is administered via a bedside machine that generates a mild air pressure that is transmitted to the throat via a hose and a mask that is strapped to the face.
Depending on the device and the individual, the treatment is considered by some to be a lifesaver—reducing the symptoms of OSA, including snoring and daytime sleepiness.
For others, it is a nightmare that makes it even more difficult to sleep because of the noise of the machine, leakage of air around the mask, the discomfort of exhaling against pressure, and the awkwardness of trying to move in bed with all that stuff strapped to you. And then, there is the body image problem…(Arghhh! Do I really look like that???).
Significant numbers of people fall into both camps—the love’ems and the hate’ems. Adherence to traditional CPAP is estimated to be about 60-70%.
Enter the Airing
First of all, the caveat. The Airing—a hoseless, maskless, micro CPAP—is a product that is still in development. A non-working prototype has been created and certain features, such as the nose buds, the soft silicon structures that hold the device in your nose, have been successfully user-tested.
The vents that allow air flow into and out of the device have also been tested and seem to work just fine when someone is breathing through the prototype.
The micro-blowers that generate the air pressure, the key technology in the device, are in the proof of concept development stage. Once this is achieved, clinical testing in real live people will be done to demonstrate that they produce the same outcomes as the full-blown, masked, hosed macro-CPAP.
Here is a graphic that shows how the micro-blowers work:
The device runs on a battery that is designed to work for ~8 hours, enough for one night. The next morning you toss it, using a fresh one each night. So, unlike the traditional CPAP machine, no cleaning or maintenance is required.
Related post: Airing’s Inventor Responds to Questions and Concerns
What is it going to cost?
The company hopes the Airings will retail for about $3 or $.60 if insurance covers the usual 80%. This translates into an annual price of about $1,100, before insurance. This is roughly comparable to the retail price of a mid-range CPAP machine. An important difference to consider, however, is that the Airing is a whole lot less likely to end up gathering dust in the basement because of its user-friendly design.
Airing is currently raising money on Indiegogo to fund further development, clinical testing, and the FDA approval process. They have already raised more than $1 million. The more they raise, the inventor tells me, the quicker they will be able to bring the device to market. Currently, the goal is to be “on the shelves” in 2017.
So, why is the Airing a game-changer?
The Airing does away with almost all of the unpleasant features of the CPAP machine. First of all, it is small and fits snugly under the nose. There are no hoses, masks, noisy bedside machines, or cords. Further, as I mentioned above, it does not require cleaning and maintenance—you use it once and throw it away.
According to the Airing website, Stephen A. Marsh,
“…is an avid, self-taught inventor/entrepreneur who has a long history of innovative product design. Stephen is the named inventor on over 75 patents and applications in the fields of electronics, energy, health care and consumer products. He has started several companies and has collaborated with a wide variety of institutions, including National Institute of Standards and Technology, AT&T, General Scanning/DuPont Medical Imaging Systems, Kurzweil Applied Intelligence, the National Institutes of Health and many others.”
I was fortunate to be able to chat with him via a Google Hangout on Air. You can watch the video to hear him describe his invention in more detail:
The bottom line
There is a very personal bottom line for me. I am, like many of you, my dear readers, a CPAP failure.
I just couldn’t stand to have that thing strapped on my face at night. And, yet, I would like something to relieve my symptoms and obviate the adverse effects of untreated OSA on my body.
Right now, I have to say, that there is no question in my mind that this:
is going to be way, way better than this:
Featured photo credit: Airing