About 18 million Americans diagnosed with sleep apnea opt not to wear their Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device, due to the uncomfortable masks and hoses associated with them. Airing LLC is working on a CPAP that's more compact than traditional devices and it wants consumers to pitch in on the development process, delivering both finances and feedback.
About the size of a Bluetooth earpiece, Airing's namesake microCPAP inserts into a pair of nostrils and keeps the nasal passages wide open during sleep. It uses micro-fluidic pumps drawn from work in the Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) design area.
The commonly accepted understanding of obstructive sleep apnea is that the soft tissue in an individual's throat collapses, typically at the end of a breath, stated Airing founder Stephen Marsh.
"So, continuous positive airway pressure blows enough air into your nose or your mouth and into your body to supply all of the air you need in an inhalation, plus a little bit more so that it actually builds up a little pressure," says Marsh. "And it's that pressure that sort of keeps the soft tissue apart."
It's that pressure that allows the individual to take in air naturally. For those who don't generate enough pressure on their own, the Airing seeks to assist.
"How it works is, these little micro-blowers are basically like a bellows, like you fan the fire in your fireplace," says Marsh. "Technically, it's called a displacement pump."
The tiny displacement pumps, which are stacked next to and on top of each other, use electrostatic charges to open and close, and draw air in and out, helping wearers sleep better. When air is breathed in, the mouths of the pumps open to take in air. At the end of each breath, the mouths of the pumps close and add pressure to the air that was just brought in. The device is battery operated.
Right now, Airing LLC has a product design. The current stage, the crowdfunding phase, kicked off on June 15. Since then, the Indiegogo campaign has raked in over $640,000, more than 600 percent of its funding, and there are still more than three weeks left in the fundraising period.
"What we like most about conducting this fundraiser via crowdfunding is that it enables those who are most passionate about the idea to directly contribute and bring it to reality," says Marsh. "We hope that anyone who is affected - or has a loved one affected - by sleep apnea will consider contributing, as we believe this solution has the potential to help millions of people live healthier, happier lives."