Festo and Fraunhofer IPA were awarded one of the three top category honors recently in Munich during the Give a Breath Challenge award ceremony. The two companies developed the Virus Fighters Handbook, an information delivery app for field hospitals, where newly designed emergency ventilators and other new emergency devices are being set up, operated, and maintained for the first time by ad hoc personnel. The app places vital information at the fingertips of care providers about the new machines and how they are applied in COVID-19 treatment. The Give a Breath Challenge offered a total prize package exceeding $1 million.
Munich Re, an insurance company, and the research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft launched the Give a Breath Challenge in March. The challenge had three categories: designs for non-invasive lung ventilators and oxygen concentrators, development of non-invasive respirator masks, and delivery of information on the use of the new equipment plus basic knowledge on COVID-19 care.
With these three components, a complete respirator system can be set up. Category requirements included the ability to produce the equipment anywhere in the world using 3D printing or other fast manufacturing processes. The primary aim was to create the technological basis for the rapid local supply of ventilators to cope with imminent shortages in the emergency treatment of COVID-19 patients, mitigating the impact of the pandemic for people affected worldwide, and helping to alleviate staffing issues through the use of ad hoc personnel. Over 150 project designs from all over the world were submitted to the Challenge.
The Virus Fighters Handbook is based on the Festo Smartenance app, which is normally used for the maintenance and servicing of machines and systems in industrial production. Smartenance provided an existing and stable platform that only needed minimal reprogramming. The Fraunhofer team, which specializes in the development of educational material in the field of medical technology, supplied the training content.
When accessing the handbook, personnel receive information via the app on the set up, use, and maintenance of the newly developed equipment, with specific information provided on treating COVID-19 patients. The Virus Fighters Handbook will be made available free of charge to users worldwide of new emergency ventilators and other equipment, both as an app for downloading and as a web application.