Ancient Greek philosopher Plato said, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. With the current Coronavirus pandemic, you might be thinking invention is a necessity now…and you’d be right. And you would also be right in asking if anything is being done. Unfortunately, those bits of information probably won’t hit your news feed on your social media account. But there are groups of people all over the world using technology to help with this current crisis in a way not possible even a few decades ago.
The Open Source Ventilator Project is just one of those groups making a huge difference today. This open source project has been created to address the predicted worldwide ventilator shortage…and it’s making a difference…fast.
You may be wondering, ‘what is open source?’. Open source software is software with a source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. The ‘source code’ is the part of software that most computer users don’t even see that makes the system you use work. You may be used to ‘proprietary’ software where a user is not permitted to do anything with the software that is not permitted. Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are examples of proprietary software.
This OSV (Open Source Ventilator) Project lets hospitals, manufacturers, and anyone around the world use the contributed designs free of charge that can be built from accessible parts and/or a 3D printer. The designs are created to be inexpensive (less than $300 US) and can use supplies and equipment readily available at local hardware stores. They are safe bare bones designs that can be assembled quickly in case of shortages in the more complex and expensive ventilators customarily used in a medical facility.