Dyson, a UK-founded best known for its vacuum cleaners and hand dryers (but not cars yet) is in the headlines for winning a contract to provide 10,000 ventilators for UK hospitals. Most readers will be well aware that if you get Covid-19 and it goes beyond serious, the only lifeline usually left is being hooked up to a medical ventilator in an ICU to get you past the worst, making sure you get the essential oxygen that your organic respiratory system can't provide.
Though there is a bit of controversy that existing medical ventilator makers seem to have been sidelined by the government, many folk are happy that the high profile Dyson company, with its reputation for innovation, has stepped in. Dyson has prototyped and prepared a new medical ventilator design from scratch in 10 days thanks to collaboration with The Technology Partnership (TTP). Furthermore, its commissioning will be streamlined by oversight from the U.K. National Health Service and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The new ventilator has been dubbed the Dyson CoVent and the UK government has ordered 10,000 units. Ventilators will be ready starting from April, a Dyson spokesperson told CNN, which is very fast if that means we will start seeing them used by medics in the UK early next month. Additionally, Dyson has pledged 5,000 CoVent devices will be donated to help in the international effort to save Covid-19 patients in dire need. 1,000 of that donated number will stay in the UK. Dyson hopes to build CoVent machines at its UK base in Wiltshire. While 10,000 extra machines might sound a lot, it is estimated the UK will need at least 30,000 medical ventilators to satisfy the need at the peak of this pandemic.
Some key points about the Dyson CoVent ventilator that I think are important are provided below:
- Designed for "the specific clinical needs of Covid-19 patients"
- Bed side mountable
- Mains powered - or battery operated if necessary
- Uses Dyson's existing digital motor technology
- New device can be "manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume"
In the US, major car makers like Ford, Tesla, and General Motors have started to tout ventilator projects. Back in the UK, rival vacuum cleaner maker Gtech (I own a cordless one, recommended) has submitted two ventilator designs to the UK government for evaluation. You can see a demo of a simple / inexpensive design from Gtech below. No PC cooling / airflow specialist firms appear to have volunteered any medical ventilator designs as yet.
The UK Govt's rapidly manufactured ventilator system specification guidance is available if you are interested in seeing the underlying tech involved in readying an acceptable medical product for this purpose. The Dyson CoVent, and other submitted designs, presumably meets all these criteria.