CoVent-19 Challenge Frontrunner from Fuseproject and Cionic
In April 2020, a cohort of resident physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital launched CoVent-19. The open eight-week innovation challenge addressed the anticipated ventilator shortages by crowdsourcing ideas for rapidly deployable alternatives. From 200-plus submissions, seven frontrunners ultimately emerged, including a joint effort between Fuseproject, the San Francisco design agency founded by Yves Béhar, medical technology startup Cionic, and several mechanical engineering consultants. The team developed VOX, a pneumatically driven ventilator that costs less than $1,000 to produce, takes under four hours to assemble, and is portable (it can be mounted to a standard IV pole). “We specifically designed VOX for the pandemic setting,” says Fuseproject senior industrial designer Daniel Zarem, who led the 19-person team. “We interviewed a lot of ICU nurses and respiratory therapists—people from both sides of the country, some in heavily hit, overcrowded ICU units. It was a very collaborative process.” Using a computer or tablet, medical workers can even control up to four machines remotely, an especially novel—and healthful—feature.