Skip to main content

Fitbit is looking to make ventilators for COVID-19 patients

Wearable device maker Fitbit is looking to join the list of companies that are making ventilators to be used on people infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Fitbit is soon submitting its technology to the Food and Drug Administration, for the ventilators to gain approval to be used specifically for COVID-19 patients, CEO James Park told CNBC.

Fitbit, which makes 10 million wearable devices every year, is planning to utilize its infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities to make ventilators. A spokesperson added that the company will work with a Taiwanese vendor to boost ventilator production as soon as FDA approval is received.

“There was a lot of concern about the shortage of ventilators and we realized we had expertise already around the supply chain,” Park said. The cost of the device, however, has not been finalized, though Park said it will be the “most advanced” emergency ventilator at a “lower” price point.

Oregon Health and Science University assistant professor of emergency medicine David Sheridan, who provided feedback along with several colleagues on Fitbit’s plans, told CNBC that the final version of Fitbit’s ventilator will be “somewhere in the middle” of an emergency ventilator and a premium-grade one, which cost between $20,000 to $50,000 each.

U.S. hospitals suffered from severe shortages of ventilators during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, as they were unprepared for the influx of patients that will require the medical devices due to breathing problems.

The shortage has spurred companies from outside the health industry to help by using their expertise and manufacturing capabilities to produce ventilators. The list includes car manufacturers such as Fiat Chrysler, Tesla, and General Motors, as well as home appliances maker Dyson and even NASA — though each with different results from their respective projects.

The U.S. is now facing a surplus of ventilators, according to the Associated Press. However, if COVID-19 cases surge again, demand for the medical devices will likewise increase, which Fitbit will be looking to help fill both locally and internationally.

Editors' Recommendations

Aaron Mamiit
Aaron received a NES and a copy of Super Mario Bros. for Christmas when he was 4 years old, and he has been fascinated with…
Contact-tracing apps were the biggest tech failure of the COVID-19 pandemic
contact tracing apps failed covid 19 pandemic

The automated contact-tracing system deployed by Google and Apple that was aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 has been, in no uncertain terms, a complete failure. The basic system's effectiveness has been called into question continuously. The apps built on the system have been, frankly, useless — that is, in regions where apps were built at all. And now 10 months after the announcement that was supposed to be pivotal in our fight to stop the spread, we have exactly zero evidence that shows it was helpful in the slightest.

A flawed system
The system itself, on a technical level, is the root of the problem. In an effort to provide something that could be used universally, while also protecting users' privacy, Google and Apple came up with a system that was doomed to be useless. It didn't use GPS or cell tower triangulation, which I appreciate from a privacy standpoint, but that means it relied on Bluetooth LE (low energy) signals to determine proximity and duration of proximity.

Read more
The best way to dispose of used face masks? Turn them into roads
Recycled face masks

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a real -- and justified -- concern that there weren’t enough face masks in circulation. Companies quickly sprang into action, manufacturing millions of these now instantly recognizable bits of protective gear. Jump forward to the first months of 2021, however, and people now have another concern: That we might have too many face masks, and that this could pose a potential environmental problem.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic is responsible for creating too much rubbish,” Jie Li, a professor in the school of engineering at Australia’s RMIT University, told Digital Trends. “The single-use disposable face masks can be seen in parks, streets, beaches, and almost everywhere. Since the masks are mainly made of nonbiodegradable plastics, these single-use masks will take as long as 450 years to break down in the environment. Urgent action is needed to address the emerging issues related to face mask generation.”

Read more
The best COVID tech of CES 2021: Smart masks and sanitizers
Razer Project Hazel

As a COVID-19 vaccination slowly rolls out across the country, the end of a nearly yearlong pandemic may be inching closer, but there's still work to be done to protect everyone, from frontline health care works to those of us working from home. Fortunately, many tech companies focused their development efforts in 2020 on products that can help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus -- and many of those products were unveiled at CES 2021.

From personal products like smart face masks and sanitizers built for car consoles to business solutions like autonomous UV robots, CES 2021 has been full of interesting, and potentially lifesaving, technology debuts.

Read more