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A device to help COPD patients breathe easy again

Project status

Pilot/study with results


Jake Brenner, MD, PhD 

Marek Swoboda, PhD 

Michal Swoboda 

Innovation leads


2018 Philips Grand Challenge


Center for Health Care Transformation and Innovation 

Penn Health-Tech

External partners


Ben Franklin Technology Partners 




Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) causes millions of Americans to suffer years of intolerable shortness of breath, a symptom that becomes more pronounced during physical activity. Historically, assisted breathing devices on the market have been impractical for patients to wear in their daily lives.


Right Air’s AIR-AD is a fully mobile, non-invasive, wearable respiratory assist device designed to offload the work of breathing for COPD patients. It is light – weighing about two pounds – and yet it can produce pressures equivalent to stationary ventilators. It is also smart – with an embedded algorithm that automatically adjusts support to the natural breathing patterns of patients during rest and exercise.

With each breath in, AIR-AD generates a vacuum that helps lift the chest and abdomen, drawing air in. With each breath out, it increases pressure over the chest and allows the patient to breathe out faster. Due to its lightweight construction, the AIR-AD vest can be worn anywhere and during normal activity.


AIR-AD offloads the work of breathing from the patient by applying alternating negative and positive pressure to the chest. As a result, it reduces shortness of breath and significantly improves quality of life for COPD patients by enabling them to actively engage in daily living. The team is currently seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration before launching sales of the vest as a commercial product.