As the Covid-19 pandemic was hitting the UK, Oxford Optronix was dealt a challenge – the company was asked to join a high-tech consortium to supply cPAP medical devices to the NHS.
‘On 21st March, I received an urgent call from Professor Mervyn Singer of University College London Hospital explaining the importance of cPAP in supporting COVID-19 patients with breathing difficulties, especially where conventional ventilation is potentially injurious to the patient. Minutes later, I was being quizzed on how to design, develop and manufacture a monitor to continuously measure the concentration of oxygen being delivered to the patient via cPAP. I realised Mervyn was asking me to do something in five days that would normally take two years!’ – Dr Andy Obeid, CEO Oxford Optronix
Oxford Optronix needed a touchscreen interface to display current oxygen concentration, and allow users to set alarms for patient safety. Normally this would involve sourcing a suitable display and writing code whilst integrating the display with the oxygen sensor and other electronics. Initial engineering would usually take months to complete.
However, Oxford Optronix knew about Lascar’s PanelPilotACE, an integrated touch screen with the processing power needed for the system. Most importantly, Lascar’s Design Studio software meant nobody needed to write any code: Design Studio features a library of ready-made graphical and functional elements you can easily combine with system inputs and outputs. The basic interface was ready in just a few hours, with no electronic integration required – the 4 to 20 mA output from the oxygen sensor could be plugged straight into the ACE.
‘We needed something that would enable us to design and build a touchscreen interface, with process control, in under a week. PanelPilotACE was that product.’ – Stephen Douglas, Technical Director Oxford Optronix.
The first prototype Flo-Ox oxygen monitors were tested only a week after the initial call. Oxford Optronix manufactured and delivered 2,000 Flo-Ox monitors to the NHS in just 8 days – a whirlwind of an achievement.
‘Well, we did it.’ – Dr Andy Obeid