Sleep apnea is a problem for more than 18 million people in the U.S., according to the American Sleep Apnea Association. The most common form of treatment is to use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine while sleeping. These can be cumbersome and annoying, with face masks, hoses, and noisy air pumps. As many as half of all CPAP users stop using it within the first year.
Airing is a company that may have a better way. They have designed a small, battery-powered device that fits in your nose without the need for any wires or hoses. The device is also intended to be a single-use product; wear it for one night, and then send it back for recycling and reuse. The battery is designed to run for at least eight hours. The company is targeting a unit price of $3, so the cost for a year would be about $1,000. The device is made possible by micro-fans, which are micro-electromechanical devices that were initially designed to blow cooling air across computer chips. By using an array of these tiny devices, the Airing can pump enough air at sufficient pressure.
The company has used an Indiegogo campaign to raise development funding, and supporters gave more than eight times the target amount; the project has raised close to $1 million. The final product is not expected to ship until 2017, which includes time to obtain FDA approval. So we won’t see this new product right away, but if Airing is successful, it could provide better treatment for patients with sleep apnea.