COPD Foundation Announces Awards for BREATHE Respiratory Hackathons

September 29, 2015

On September 19-21, 2015, the COPD Foundation partnered with Novartis Pharma with technical support from Cambridge Consulting, MIT Media Lab, Imperial College in London, and Technion: Israel Institute of Technology, for the BREATHE Respiratory Hackathons. Over one weekend, innovators participated in a global event that took place simultaneously across three continents.

Each location fielded ten teams experienced in assorted disciplines, each examining and working with similar equipment. Teams were given free rein to explore solutions to many of the problems respiratory sufferers face daily. Over three days, almost 30 different ideas were explored, developed, and presented to a judging panel consisting of patients and industry professionals. Each country selected winners from their location and submitted two projects to be voted on by the European Respiratory Society membership at their annual conference in Amsterdam.

Out of a total of six projects, the winning concept was determined to be a tie between projects submitted by MIT and Technion: "Tangle Air" (MIT) and "Nimrod Bar" (Technion).

"Tangle Air," consisted of a way to allow supplemental oxygen patients freedom of movement by managing their oxygen tubing. The innovative system consisted of a track to keep hoses off the floor and enabled patient movement by a tensioned reel system. The result eliminated tripping hazards, with hoses remaining more hygienic and less exposed to damage.

The "Nimrod Bar" submitted by Technion, was described as a deep breath cloud, an open platform for remote patient monitoring, big data trend analysis, and decision support, based on IBM Bluemix and Watson. Signal analysis on the cloud generated alerts and events, which, together with patient records and complaints, were fed into IBM Watson. IBM Watson generated recommendations for action and optimized device configuration (or even switched on/off devices like ventilator, oxygen concentrator or nebulizer). The platform also supported the "Cloudify" sensor that connected in-line to patient tubes from CPAP, ventilator or oxygen concentrator - and allowed monitoring of patients with different respiratory equipment, while generating common normalized data.

In addition to the awards presented in Amsterdam, each location submitted two projects for the Patient Choice Awards, where members of the COPD Foundation’s COPD360social platform viewed videos of each of the six projects and voted for their favorites. The first place winner was "COPD Cope" from MIT. This product was a fashionable earring that monitored oxygen saturation while it simultaneously connected via Bluetooth to a smartphone application to support COPD patients. The app provided self-care strategies such as exercises to manage and cope with COPD on a daily basis.

The second place winner, "Koala" from Imperial College, was the first unobtrusive symptom-tracking pendant that allowed COPD patients and carriers to monitor data and prevent exacerbations, at a very low cost. "Koala" gave feedback on respiratory rate, cough patterns, heart rate and stress levels, with no need for patient exertion.

Learn more about the BREATHE Respiratory Hackathon inventions here.