A 22-year-old college student in the UK, who suffered from acute asthma since he was a child, has developed an inhaler which signals whether a user has taken the right dosage.
Josh Averill, an undergraduate in product design at Nottingham Trent University in UK, claims his invention has the potential to alleviate people's symptoms by helping ensure they administer the medicine correctly.
Manufactured using 3D printing, the inhaler features a piezo sensor that measures airflow as it passes through it. If the user breathes in correctly - and in doing so increases the airflow - a green LED lights up. But if an inadequate amount is inhaled, a red one illuminates.
Two buzzes are also sounded; the first to signal when the user should start to inhale and the second to let him know when to stop holding his breath.
"I really like the thought that it could help other people who have difficulties with asthma," said Josh, who has studied in the University's School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment for the past three years.
"Quite a few of the problems people have are related to the fact that they're not getting the correct dosage from their inhaler. If this happens for a long period of time, a person's asthma can get worse and worse. It's a common problem.
"I wanted to design something which helped solve this and enabled people to know for certain that they have used their inhaler correctly," he said.
Josh undertook research with 60 different people including school children, fellow university students and older people - and asked asthmatics and non-asthmatics to test the prototype. He also interviewed specialist doctors and nurses.
"It's a simple design, but also quite a modern one. And because it only requires you to replace the canister, it's more sustainable. We've enhanced the ergonomics too and, according to initial enquiries, it could be made for an affordable price," Josh said.
"I'm keen now to look at how it can be developed as a product and whether to get it patented," he said.
"Josh has developed a very exciting prototype which could be a real aid to people who suffer from chronic asthma," Dr Philip Breedon, a reader in smart technologies at the university, who has supervised the project, said.
"He has a very good understanding of the issues many people with asthma face and I'm really pleased that he's been able to design something which could help improve their lives," Breedon said.