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Resmed Headquarters in Belle Vista, NSW, Australia and Some Resmed History

Here are some pictures my good friend, dsm, from cpaptalk's forum took during his visit to Resmed's headquarters in Belle Vista, NSW, Australia.

http://www.internetage.ws/general/bellavista-1/
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History notes
This material was submitted to Standards Australia by ResMed for the 2006 Australian Design Awards judging and subsequently transferred to the Powerhouse Museum for display in the Australian Design Awards exhibition from July 2006 - June 2007.

The S8 system was winner of the 2006 Australian Design Award of the Year. This award is given to a product which, in the opinion of the judges in the Australian Design Awards, is an example of world-leading product design, over and above all of the other products entered that year. In 2006 over 200 entries were received in the Australian Design Awards competition. The judging panel recommended 41 of these products receive an Australian Design Mark and of these, 21 products for an Australian Design Award. The products receiving the Australian Design Award and the Powerhouse Museum Selection were announced at a dinner and awards ceremony on 19th May 2006 at Wharf 8, Sydney.

The history of ResMed began with Professor Colin Sullivan at the sleep clinic of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney. In 1979, he studied some patients who were heavy snorers. He noticed that they had apnoea and he guessed that other snorers could also have this condition. As his father was an inventor, he had grown up with the attitude that problems can be solved. He had the idea of supplying pressurised air via the nose (nasal continuous positive airway pressure, or nasal CPAP) to keep his patients' airways open during sleep.

To test the idea, he glued tubes into a patient's nostrils and connected them to a vacuum cleaner (no that's not a joke!) set up to blow air into the tubes. This worked for some patients, although others could not get to sleep while hooked up to the experimental machine.

So Dr Sullivan had developed and tested a treatment for sleep apnoea and he had realised that the condition might be fairly common. He had seen an opportunity to improve many people's quality of life and to create an industry.

His next step was to develop a device to supply the positive air pressure via a mask, rather than through uncomfortable tubes. He patented his first nasal CPAP device in 1981, but further development and design work would be needed to make it suitable for mass production and everyday use. Sullivan approached Dr Peter Farrell, who was then working for a multinational healthcare company, for financial support. Farrell backed the idea and later became the leader of ResMed, the company that grew from their partnership.

The Sullivan Nasal CPAP (continous positive airway pressure) was the first machine to give complete relief from sleep apnoea. The machine was improved to make the flow rate and pressure adjustable to meet individual needs. The sleeping mask was also constantly redesigned to make it much more comfortable. Now sleep apnoea sufferers can sleep soundly and enjoy better quality of life.

The ResCare company, later known as ResMed, was formed in 1989 to manufacture and market the CPAP. By the end of the twentieth century, ResMed operated through offices in the United States, Australia, Germany, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia, and through a network of distributors in more than 40 other countries. Its main manufacturing base was in Sydney and the company spent 7-8% of its net revenues on research and product development. The company was listed on both the Australian and New York Stock Exchanges and had a total of 186 patents issued and pending for a range of technologies. In 2000 ResMed made the Forbes 200 Best Small Companies in America list for the fourth year in a row. ResMed was named Australian Exporter of the Year in 2006.
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In 2006 the ResMed S8 sleep apnea flow generator and humidifier received the Australian Design Award of the Year. Bart Kenyon, mechanical team leader for the flow generator talks about the innovative aspects of the device.

'CPAP helps treat obstructive sleep apnea. And what happens there is when the person goes to sleep their upper airway - the back of your nose down to your neck - actually collapses. The muscle tone around that area is not quite what it should be and when you go to sleep that actually collapses down and completely closes off your airway. When that happens you can't breathe, until your brain detects that you're in a bit of trouble and you wake up.'

'What CPAP does is it provides a pressurized supply of air from a machine that sits on the bedside. Air comes down a tube and the person wears a mask. That pressurized air enters the person's nose and just gently pressurizes the air way so it gently keeps the airway open.'

'There are quite a few innovative features about the S8 system. The way we have used what's called over-moulding and co-moulding of components in order to isolate the noise. Both the impeller that pressurizes the air and the motor both make quite a bit of noise and so you've got to insulate that noise - you don't want that noise getting into a person's bedroom and keeping them awake - that's always a challenge with these devices. But when we had this miniature device to design, you don't have room for traditional ways of insulating the noise. So we came up with an approach where almost every part inside the device, the really important ones, are over-moulded. For example one part there's a plastic moulding but then moulded over that is a rubber coating, and that bonding together of dissimilar materials means that it won't resonate, so that the noise inside won't vibrate the walls and pass the noise outside the device.'

'It's not the first CPAP machine I've worked on at ResMed but in some respects it was quite different in that it was certainly the most challenging. The challenge of making it meet all its functional requirements while reducing in size - I think the reduction was down to one third of the volume of the previous device - to make that work was I think probably the hardest project I have ever worked on. As a result probably the most satisfying as well.'

Bart Kenyon, interview recorded with Powerhouse Museum in June 2006
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In 2006 the ResMed S8 sleep apnea flow generator and humidifier received the Australian Design Award of the Year. Senior industrial designer Perry Lithgow spoke to the Powerhouse Museum about the industrial design goals and details in making the device more appealing to the user.

'The S8 system is the latest in a series of systems. It encompasses a number of different levels of CPAP, from AutoSet down to a very basic level of CPAP. It also includes as part of the system humidification that can be attached to it and become a fully integrated device. It also includes data acquisition type modules that fit onto it to help the clinicians with assessing patients and seeing how they're going.'

'The S8 system came about when there were indicators in the marketplace that the flow generators of the future were going to be needing to be a lot more compact to fit into people's lifestyles a lot more so that they weren't burdened when they needed to travel. The S8 is really aimed at fitting into the lifestyle more and one of the ways is through reduction in size, another way is through improving the usability of the product.'

'We did a lot of work to keep it compact and still achieve the performance requirements that we needed. Some of the other areas of challenge are the connections between the flow generator and the humidifier. The complexity there was that although it is a mechanical connection between those two devices there are also a lot of hidden connections going on.'

'The best part of the process for me was the end result. From an industrial design perspective I was really happy with the level of detail that we were able to put into the design. Our goal as we started out was to create an object that looked crafted rather than manufactured. So we wanted there to be a lot of detail for the end user to enjoy over the life of the product. We also wanted the end user to really create an emotional bond to the product so that they were very satisfied with their choice in purchase.'

'With the S8 we wanted to take it an evolution further on in the design. So for example we have done a lot of work with the surfaces around the user interface to highlight various areas like the buttons and the LCD screen. We've also put little details on the handle for example to show the user where to interact with the handle, to assist them to lift the handle. And also around the back area of the machine where they need to change a filter every now and then, we've designed that not only with the engineering aspects in mind, because the filter cover is important for the reduction of noise coming out of the machine, but we've also designed it with usability in mind so there's a little area that the user can grip and remove the cover. So just lots of little details like that, highlighting features that the user needs to interact with and also just a lot of work with the surfaces to make the product look somewhat crafted by hand rather than just done on a simple CAD machine.'

Perry Lithgow, interview with Powerhouse Museum recorded June 2006
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http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/collection/database/?irn=365288

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia.

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Comment by Judy on May 18, 2010 at 9:16pm
Bump
Comment by Mike on May 4, 2009 at 12:49am
Judy, posted these to the Photos section so that they'll be more visible to others. please let me know if there's any problem doing so.

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