Network-based inhaler for children

Network-based inhaler for children
  • 06. October 2020
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  • Cooperation projects,
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- Foto: Kidsmed OÜ -

Many companies have started out of a personal need for a specific product that is not currently available on the market or that does not meet the market demand. 

The company Kidsmed OÜ was started precisely due to the lack of a product and of personal needs. “Soon after the birth of a child, one had to face one of the most common ailments of the infant- a runny nose. We tested aspirators in Estonia, but none of them proved to be effective. We found an interesting product on the foreign market, which was highly praised in other parts of the world, and we decided to get the rights to represent this product in both the Baltics and Finland,” Sander Kütt, one of the founders of Kidsmed OÜ, introduces. The company was a success and their first new product was the Nosiboo nasal aspirator, but another personal concern had to be resolved, for which the Estonian market did not yet offer a good solution. “Our child has had asthma since birth and has had a very bad cough every time they had a simple cold. This required the use of medicines with an inhaler,” the founder of Kidsmed OÜ explains.

Having used different inhalers, we realised that the perfect device does not exist yet. There were a lot of problems, the inhaler masks became unsightly, the medicine leaked, the device produced noise, there had to be separate measuring devices, the motor broke down and the device could not be cleaned. This series of problems continued.

“Being in this field and already selling children’s medical devices, we decided to take matters into our own hands and develop a product that will make parents’ lives easier,” Kütt said. Adding that their goal was to help children and make fighting diseases as easy and carefree as possible for both the child and the parent.

Reaching the solution with the help of the university and students

 To achieve the goal of creating a real product that would help, the only conceivable solution seemed to be to involve the excellent universities of Estonia and their potential. The Estonian Academy of Arts gave a solution, a helping hand in the product development phase, and this lead to Carol Kottis and Kätlin Kallas creating an inhaler for children based on network technology as their bachelor’s thesis. 

At the request of Kidsmed OÜ, by involving young students and with the help of supervisors, a comfortable medical device with innovative design elements was developed. The inhaler is used to administer medicine to children with respiratory illnesses or who have difficulty with alternative methods of administration, as well as for common respiratory illnesses such as coughing and runny nose. The steam coming from the device helps to keep the mucous membrane moist, which reduces swelling and irritation.

“The product itself is not unique in nature, but we have made the existing solutions suitable for small children and eliminated the disadvantages of the existing solutions,” Sander Kütt says.

Any development takes time and it must be taken into consideration that not all orders in universities are ready overnight. Before the final solution, in order to identify the problems associated with the use of the inhaler, data had to be collected by interviewing the target group and specifying the initial task with the cooperation partner. “It took about half a year to create the design, because of COVID that slowed down the development.”

The end result, however, was a compact product designed with colour psychology, the right material and the comfort of an inhaler in mind, a more durable battery, a wristband and packaging that ultimately protects the device and accessories. The comfortable carrying case had to hold an inhaler, a USB cable, a mouthpiece, a mask, a measuring syringe, a wristband, an instruction manual and other tools needed to use the device.

Beautiful and comfortable network-based inhaler for children

The bachelor’s thesis shows that based on colour psychology, the most child-friendly colours are light blue, light yellow and light green. The shape of the inhaler is inspired by the shape of an egg, which was the most comfortable shape for the small users to hold in their hands. The advantage of this shape, however, is the so-called roly-poly toy effect, which relieves shock when the inhaler falls over. In addition, the battery level can be controlled by holding down the on / off button and the durable lithium-titanium battery has a long life and does not overheat. The mask itself consists of a hard transparent part and a soft seal. The inward bent edge of the mask protects the medicine from leaking and makes the mask more comfortable.

In their work, the authors explain that, if necessary, the mask of the inhaler and the medication chamber can be replaced, which is necessary if the motor inside the medication chamber breaks due to a fall. This design is necessary because it is more efficient to replace parts of the mask than to buy a new inhaler. There is a removable wrist strap on the back of the device that can be placed around the child’s arm during treatment to prevent falls. This feature contributes to the child’s autonomy, as the parents trust the child to use the device independently. Solution

“The inhaler is intended to be used with a battery, i.e. it is wireless. This makes the device easy and comfortable to carry, move around the room and safe for children. The child-friendly and compact product itself is not yet on sale, at the moment the technical side of the device is being developed and production opportunities are being discussed,” Kütt says about future directions. Adding that, soon, Kidsmed OÜ is coming out with another innovative tool for children and families, a reliable infrared thermometer.

Kütt admits when speaking about development and cooperation between enterprises and research institutions, that it is possible to cooperate with universities, you have to have a clear idea at the beginning and find the right cooperation partner. “The process has been interesting and given a great experience overall. The Estonian Academy of Arts not only helped us during the product development, but also instructed and assisted us in applying for EAS support. From our experience, receiving support in cooperation with Estonian Academy of Arts and Enterprise Estonia went quickly and smoothly. We received feedback from both on a regular basis when something needed to be clarified or rewritten.” He adds that universities can provide useful help to entrepreneurs by offering new solutions to entrepreneurial ideas and solving strategic shortfalls together.

The network-technology based inhaler for children was developed within the framework of the bachelor’s thesis of Carol Kotis and Kätlin Kallas, students of the Estonian Academy of Arts. The work focused on the creation of a user-centered design of a network-based inhaler, targeting children aged 3-7. The work was completed as an order for Kidsmed. Supervisors: Mihkel-Emil Mikk, Piret Uustal.

The completion of the product is supported by the Enterprise Estonia.


Kaja Mõts, Adapter’s co-author

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