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Australian medical company rewarded for apnea machine

02 June, 2006

One of Australia's leading medical equipment manufacturing companies has won the prestigious Australian Design Award of the Year for its groundbreaking sleep apnea machine.

The Sydney based company, ResMed, has won the Australian Design Award of the Year for its leightweight palm-sized sleep apnea treatment device, designed to alleviate common breathing and snoring problems.

It is estimated that up to 10 percent of Australia's adult population, around 1.5 million, suffer from sleep apnea - roughly the same number who suffer from asthma and diabetes.

If not treated during sleep, sleep apnea can narrow or close a person's upper airway to cause snoring or in some cases stop airflow for as long as 10 seconds.

This sleep disturbance may occur several hundred times a night resulting in tiredness and may contribute to other serious health conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression.

The ResMed device officially known as the 'S8 Series Flow Generator and  HumidAire 3i Humidifier System' treats its user by using slightly pressurised air to split open the upper airway.

Unlike conventional devices, the ResMed device provides comfortable treatment by delivering air at a pressure level, which varies depending on the changing needs of patients while they sleep.

The ResMed device is 69 percent smaller and much quieter than its predecessor and is designed for use at home and while travelling. The dramatically smaller size makes it easier for sufferers of sleep apnea to incorporate comfortable and flexible treatment into their lifestyle and homes.

The Award was presented to Perry Lithgow from the ResMed design and development team by John Tucker, CEO of Standards Australia, and Michael Bryce, chairman of Minacle Bryce and chief design advisor to the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

Tucker said this is one of the most important developments in the treatment of sleep disorders and goes a long way to improving the quality of life for hundreds and thousands of Australians.

Australian Design Awards judge, Robert Tiller, head of one of Australia's top design consultancies, described the ResMed sleep apnea machine as a high quality product with "so much technology squeezed into such a small space."

"It is a comprehensive design and beautifully executed. Years of design achievement have lead to a hero product, extremely well considered and designed perfectly to do the job.

"This is Australian design at its best and ResMed has a lot to be proud of," Tiller said.

Stephanie Watson, manager of Standards Australia's Australian Design Awards said as winner of the Australian Design Award of the Year the ResMed sleep apnea machine would receive international exposure.

"The Australian Design Awards, a division of Standards Australia, is Australia's only national product design awards programme and the Australian Design Award of the Year is seen around the world as an example of the best in Australian design and innovation.

"Previous winners have gone on to increase sales and break into new markets around the world, Watson said.