Fitbit to develop emergency COVID-19 ventilator: CNBC

Fitbit aims to wield its fitness-focused supply chain to start building its own COVID-19 ventilator and plans to submit its designs to the FDA in the near future, CEO James Park told CNBC in an interview.

The company’s device would include more features than the typical emergency alternatives developed in response to the spreading coronavirus pandemic, which are largely made to be built quickly and at scale using off-the-shelf components and mechanically deliver puffs of air at a fixed rate. 

By comparison, the more sophisticated ventilators typically used in hospitals and intensive care units can add heat and humidity to the air while varying the amount of pressure delivered in ways that keep the lungs more fully inflated following exhalation.

After collaborating on a prototype with physicians at Oregon Health & Science University, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Park said Fitbit’s device would be somewhat more advanced but still come in at a lower price point compared to the premium, durable ventilators designed for long-term hospital use.

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If given the go-ahead by the FDA, the company plans to expand its production efforts through one of its existing vendors in Taiwan, according to Park, who said Fitbit currently makes 10 million devices overall each year. 

And while other manufacturers in the U.S. and internationally have been working to satisfy the shortages of ventilator equipment since February and March, Park said high demand could return following new outbreaks of the disease.