In response to anticipated shortages of ventilators caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations have designed low-cost emergency ventilators. Many of these devices are pressure-cycled pneumatic ventilators, which are easy to produce but often do not include the sensing or alarm features found on commercial ventilators. This work reports a low-cost, easy-to-produce electronic sensor and alarm system for pressure-cycled ventilators that estimates clinically useful metrics such as pressure and respiratory rate and sounds an alarm when the ventilator malfunctions. A low-complexity signal processing algorithm uses a pair of nonlinear recursive envelope trackers to monitor the signal from an electronic pressure sensor connected to the patient airway. The algorithm, inspired by those used in hearing aids, requires little memory and performs only a few calculations on each sample so that it can run on nearly any microcontroller.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9184284
Pages (from-to)1088-1096
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Biomedical monitoring
  • biomedical signal processing
  • envelope detectors
  • pressure measurement
  • ventilators

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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