A Device That Counts Every Single Breathe for Asthma Patients

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a-device-that-counts-every-single-breathe-for-asthma-patients

A Device That Counts Every Single Breathe for Asthma Patients: Australian designer Katherine Kawecki wants people to breathe easy, and she’s closer to achieving her dream after claiming an international award.

The 22-year-old industrial design graduate was named runner-up in the James Dyson Award overnight for her unique take on asthma management, claiming more than $9800 Prize Money and worldwide recognition.

Ms Kawecki’s device, Respia, features the first wearable technology — a patch — that tracks when users are getting breathless and discreetly taps them. Respia also features an app to track medication use, and a redesign of asthma inhalers, adding preventer and reliever medication in one device.

Ms Kawecki, who graduated from the University of New South Wales earlier this year, said she decided to tackle asthma management as an issue as more than 250,000 people die from the condition each year, according to the World Health Organisation. “All of those deaths are preventable,” she said. “There seems to be a trend for underestimating your condition.”

Ms Kawecki said the wearable patch worked “similarly to a stethoscope” and featured a sensitive acoustic sensor to measure wheezing. “You might not notice an attack coming on because you’re busy at work during the day so the wearable patch monitors your breathing and gives you haptic (vibrating) feedback,” she said.

“If you’re wheezing, it will tap you twice, and keep you aware of your health.”

Respia’s accompanying inhaler was equipped with Bluetooth, to deliver information about medication use to a smartphone app, and also showed how many doses remained. Ms Kawecki said she had already made a prototype of the device but would now seek “more funding and support” to deliver the device to a wider audience.

American designer Isis Schiffer, from New York’s Pratt Institute of Design, claimed first prize in the James Dyson Award for EcoHelmet, a folding, recyclable bike helmet designed for bike share users. Ms Schiffer said she intended to manufacture the helmets and sell them for $5 each at cycling stations.

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