, How it Works


New CPAP Developments and Alternatives


Growing concerns over the dangers of sleep apnea and the importance of long-term treatment compliance has led to an upsurge in research and development of the technology in recent years. Some of the major developments include the introduction of BiPAP, APAP or AutoSet systems, and Adaptive-Servo Ventilation (ASV), which have all greatly increased therapy compliance rates, especially for those patients with varying pressure needs. Top CPAP equipment manufacturers like ResMed and Philips Respironics are always competing in the area of innovation, and it’s mostly the patients who benefit, as each new development aims to increase comfort, convenience, and the positive health outcomes of using the products. The machines have also become quieter, smaller, and more portable, making it easier to bring therapy along on trips and vacations. And mask options have become extremely diverse, including a number of nasal-pillow masks that have become quite popular in terms of user ratings and review. As the research and development continues, a number of new patents and projects are worth noting, along with the overall impact of these innovations on the role of sleep apnea treatments in our lives.


CPAP Startups, Alternatives, and Supplemental Treatments

In addition to the leading manufacturers who dominate the industry, the popularity of CPAP has also attracted new startups who are beginning to push the industry forward with developments of their own. Metamason, Inc, a new company specializing in CPAP automation and customization, has developed a custom mask fitting system in which the patient’s face and head are measured with a home scanning kit that sends the data via a cloud-based application to a 3-D printing center for final assembly. Metamason plans to provide ongoing support via telemedicine services, but are currently waiting on a number of pending patents for their design algorithms and other technologies, as well as for a 510(k) acceptance by the FDA.  

Another startup, comprised of seven University of Texas undergraduates, won the $100K Student Technology Venture Competition presented by the UTSA Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE). This group, inspired by the rapid progress of CPAP technologies, developed a small, portable CPAP device that integrates the blower into the mask itself while using a power supply that attaches to the body, freeing it completely from obstructions. The team, calling themselves Mediflow, created their prototype back in 2014, but similar devices have since entered the market.

Similar to the Mediflow idea of a self-contained unit, another proposed device, the Airing micro-blower CPAP, is currently seeking crowdfunding online. Airing uses micro-pump technology as a source of pressure from within a small nasal unit about the size of a nose guard or snoring device. Stephen Marsh, the inventor of Airing, was motivated by the numbers of “non-compliant” sleep apnea patients, and sought to provide an alternative, pocket-size model using the traditional CPAP therapy concept. The resulting device uses soft, silicone nosebuds attached to a system of micro-blowers—initially designed to regulate heat in computer chips—and a proprietary zinc-air battery that provides eight hours of power. While there remains a lot of controversy online about Airing’s years of development without a complete product prototype, as well as its possible limitations in pressure and battery power, some of these issues have been addressed by the CEO. In an interview with Dr. Patricia Salber on her website The Doctor Weighs In, Mr. Marsh had promised in 2016 that development was underway, and that all results thus far were positive. Even if Airing products have limitations, at the very least, it is another development in a long line of CPAP research that can be used in future endeavors.

The Airing idea is meant to be a hybrid of CPAP and the alternative oral application devices currently on the market. For example, Provent therapy uses a very simple nasal device to relay pressure from normal breathing and help reduce apnea events and snoring. But Provent, like some of the other snore prevention devices currently available, is limited to patients with minor cases of apnea or apnea-related complications. What current research like the Airing project are trying to accomplish is quite a challenge, as the demands for CPAP improvements and alternatives continue to drive research and development in the direction of a cure or easy treatment that may never exist.  

Another treatment alternative, created by AirWare Labs in Scottsdale, Arizona, uses a nasal oxygen cannula design that dilates the nasal passage to increase airflow. As with the Airing micro-CPAP, there is no model yet approved for the device market, but crowdfunding investments have been encouraging, and further design implementations are under way. One of the reasons for its popularity is its potential as supplementary treatment, used in addition to CPAP. This is a good example of how innovations like these, while not likely to become the gold standard of treatment that CPAP therapy has proved itself to be, will continue to expand the range of treatments available. At the same time, machines like ResMed’s AirMini and the Philips Respironics Dreamstation series continue to push the standard CPAP paradigm into new territory with lighter, more comfortable, and more customised device options. With increasing focus on the software and operating systems shared by a range of CPAP machines, it is also becoming easier to improve existing models with routine updates, upgrades, and new applications.   

Metamason, Inc.


The Future According to Colin

Colin Sullivan, M.B.B.S., Ph.D, FRACP, the inventor of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), was once asked in an interview with the National Sleep Foundation where he saw sleep apnea treatment going in the next 20 years. His answer, surprisingly, was focused on prevention, for example, the importance of addressing breathing problems early using pediatric screenings. But at the same time he assured the NSF that CPAP would remain a front-line therapy for years to come.  “The search for a magic pill will go on,” he said. “But they are still not yet on the horizon.” The same could be said about today’s research. People will always strive for a better, lighter, easier solution to human problems, and sleep apnea in all its manifestations has proven to be a serious human health problem, responsible for thousands of deaths every year throughout the world. While some patients find CPAP difficult to deal with, Dr. Sullivan actually expressed a very optimistic perspective on the issue. In comparison to compliance rates for treatments of chronic conditions, he pointed out that CPAP is actually looking quite promising.



ECR Labs – –

National Sleep Foundation –

Sleep Education –

The Doctor Weighs In –

USA Today –