A set of Tasmanian-made smart ventilator prototypes are ready to go to the mainland, where they will be assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration before being used by the Victorian Department of Health.
The smart ventilators were designed and manufactured by Launceston company Definium, and founder Mike Cruse said he hopes the experience will help show quality technology products can and are being made in Tasmania.
"Having this design and manufacturing capability in Tasmania, I think, is hopefully going to show the value of local manufacturing," he said.
"There's been a request for companies to make ventilators because there has been some shortages and there might be some more shortages again. It's great that we're able to do that."
Ventilators are machines used in hospitals to help people breathe.
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The difference between Definium's product and traditional "mechanical" ventilators is that mechanical ventilators consistently pump air in and out of the lungs on time and pressure settings. Smart ventilators take ongoing input readings from the body and constantly adjust their strength and rhythm, based on automatic calculations of what the body needs at any given moment in time.
'When you're trying to ventilate someone, there's basically two ways that you can do it," he said.
"One is the assistive approach, where the machine tries to understand what the person needs and what the ventilator is doing - whether they're trying to breathe in or out themselves," he said. "That's the nicer way to do it."
"With the purely mechanical ventilators you pretty much have to be unconscious for them to work - and even then, the body fights it.
"I've seen my dad on a ventilator when he's been unconscious so it's doing all the work, and you can see every now and again the body tries to kick into its own rhythm, but it's fighting the ventilator."
Mr Cruse said the control systems they are making can be fit to existing mechanical ventilators to upgrade them with smart capabilities.
At this stage, 10 prototypes of the smart ventilators have been manufactured.
"We have to build the prototype, test it, find out what we've got wrong, fix it, and then they can go into production," he said.
Definium is working with Ballarat-based company Gekko to make different parts of the ventilators.
Gekko is also not traditionally a ventilator company - they specialise in mining equipment - but they too have been able to pivot to meet the manufacturing needs of the current Australian situation.