Fitbit is putting its expertise to work with the Fitbit Flow ventilator, a low-cost device with emergency FDA approval for use throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement for The Verge, Fitbit estimated that its ventilators would sell for around $5,000 each—tens of thousands of dollars less than the average medical-grade ventilator.
But Fitbit isn’t selling the Flow as a replacement for traditional ventilators. Instead, the company calls Flow an emergency device and suggests that healthcare workers only use it when a hospital’s expensive ventilators are occupied or unavailable. Remember, the Flow doesn’t actually have FDA approval, it’s just approved for emergency use for the duration of our pandemic.
According to Fitbit, the Flow ventilator uses a system of resuscitator bags, biological sensors, and alarms to monitor and resuscitate patients. It’s similar to emergency ventilators developed by NASA and automotive companies, although Fitbit claims that the Flow is easier to use and has more accurate sensors than other emergency ventilators.
Will hospitals use the Fitbit Flow? Hopefully not. The U.S. response to COVID-19 included an aggressive push for ventilators that resulted in a surplus of the devices. We have so many ventilators that we’re sending them to other countries. If U.S. hospitals start ordering the Fitbit Flow, it’ll be because of a second wave of Coronavirus or a particularly aggressive flu season.