Researchers at Rice University have developed a candy bar-sized spirometer, an apparatus for measuring the air intake and outtake of the lungs, and identifying obstructive and restrictive breathing patterns. NSF awarded a $50,000 I-Corps grant to Professor Ashutosh Sabharwal, research engineer Gaurav Patel and their mentor Anthony Elam to study its potential commercialization, in order to bring the innovation to market. Tony Elam was also the former Rice Associate Dean of Engineering for Research.
“The main purpose of the i-Corps program is to find university innovation that has potential for market,” Sabharwal explained. “The aim is to understand the product-market fit: do real users need and want the innovations?”
It turns out that the team discovered that while there is a need for innovations in spirometry, the current version of Rice mobileSpiro does not serve that need. During the process of customer discovery, the team recognized the real need in current spirometry practice by talking to actual healthcare provides, hospital administrators and actual patients. To meet that need, the team has decided to develop an alternate version of the spirometer as part of a new venture, Cognita Labs. The team will start fresh and develop a product which they believe will solve the real challenge by the practitioners.
“Cognita Labs is a newly formed biomedical technology company and will focus on developing novel bio-medical devices to address chronic respiratory illnesses,” Sabharwal said. The company consists of Sabharwal, Patel and Elam.