It is estimated that 1.5 million Australians suffer Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition in which a person stops breathing repeatedly through the night due to obstruction and/or collapse of the upper airway. OSA wreaks havoc on people’s sleep patterns resulting in excessive sleepiness, irritability or fatigue during the day. OSA is more prevalent in males and becomes more common with age, largely affecting those over 60.
CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines which deliver a flow of pressurised air to keep the airways open in combination with a CPAP mask which is fitted over the nose, or nose and mouth, have been used for treating OSA for many years, however, a large number of patients often abandon this treatment due to air leakage and discomfort caused by the mask.
Bespoke Medical Innovations Pty Ltd (‘Bespoke’), an Australian based medical innovation company, specialising in bespoke or custom solutions within the medical field, is tackling the problem head on with innovative face mapping technology to create a precise 3D custom mask solution for sleep apnea treatment.
The revolutionary ApneaSeal® uses a Nose Studio® facial scanner – a simple and quick face mapping process to capture over 20,000 data points of an individual’s face. Once the images from the facial mapping scan are captured, they are instantaneously transmitted to specialist engineers who convert the individual’s facial architecture to build a customised CPAP mask using state of the art 3D printing.
Due to the intimate design and fit of ApneaSeal®, the force required by headgear straps and contact pressure to seal the mask against the face is substantially decreased, ensuring the mask is exceptionally light and comfortable on the face. This light fit is very stable, even at high levels of treatment pressure, and can be maintained through the night.
It’s been a period of rapid growth for the ApneaSeal® since the pilot product was launched in July 2017 – there are now 20 Nose Studio® facial scanner locations in Australia and plans are afoot to spread further afield.
Phil Kwok, Bespoke’s Director of Strategy and Innovation, is responsible for the company’s evolution of intellectual property, innovation, and Research & Development for the Sleep Apnea solutions business unit. He has 25 years’ experience in the Sleep Apnea and respiratory devices field and is widely recognised as a global expert in CPAP masks.
As an inventor/co-inventor in over 1,400 patent cases, Phil is well qualified to discuss the merits of capturing IP and the value of a good patent attorney who understands the technical merits of an invention within the commercial context of the big picture.
“As a start up, you don’t want to patent everything and timing in capturing IP is critical. In most cases, start ups have limited funds so it’s important to conserve capital expenditure without opening up a loophole. A good attorney will suggest solutions that can save a business a huge amount of money in the future and the best attorneys will ask ‘what’s the value proposition?’”
Commenting on his choice of IP provider, Phil says “The right patent attorney can’t be googled – you need to know who’s at the top of their game.”
“James Wan of Watermark has extensive experience working with respiratory masks. He also understands what we, as a start up, are going through. He takes a commercial view and has the maturity to ask the right questions. And, if I throw a question, he gives a couple of perspectives.”
James has advised on both patents and trade marks and, recently, says Phil, Bespoke received their first granted Australian patent for ApneaSeal®.
“Through James, we’ve achieved our first milestone with the validation of novelty.”
In addition to changing the lives of OSA sufferers for the better, Bespoke provides customised orthopaedic implant solutions via their parallel business unit, Orthopaedics. Through cutting edge planning and design and manufacturing, Bespoke ensures that patients individually receive the best possible physiological care and optimal restoration of biomechanics.
According to Phil, Bespoke is going from strength to strength having attracted significant funding for patenting new medical devices invented by Bespoke that are superior to conventional CPAP masks.
With a vision of commercialising high value, customised medical products designed for individual patients, it appears the sky’s the limit for this Australian medical innovator.
Further information can be found at www.bespokemedical.com.au