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Wearable oximeters will help the asthmatic breath easy

Troxie, an ASU startup, it is on the verge of making asthma much easier on kids


The Troxie team poses for a group photo at ASU's startup summit in Tempe, Arizona on Feb. 19, 2017.

Wristwatches and wearables can do just about everything a person desires nowadays, from sending texts to making a dinner reservation. Troxie, a startup created by ASU undergraduate biomedical engineering students, looks to add yet another feature to the wearable space: a pulse oximeter.

"The purpose is to create a way to help monitor patients who have severe asthma or other respiratory illnesses or diseases as a means of proactively indicating when they start to drop into a dangerous state," Courtney Van Bussum, the team's business development specialist, said.

Van Bussum said patients who experience respiratory conditions can experience severe drops in blood oxygen levels for a number of reasons.

"Sometimes they can drop to dangerously low levels where they need to be hospitalized, or there's this mad scramble to get them treated or get them helped," Van Bussum said.

The Troxie team said that the goal of a wearable oximeter is to identify dropping levels of blood oxygen and notify the patient's family and physician before it becomes a serious issue.

"So right now if you think of a blood oximeter you think of it on your finger," Chloe Houlihan, the team's hardware development specialist, said. "What we're doing is we are making it so it goes around the wrist instead of on your finger so you don't have those big goofy wires. It's not practical to walk around all day with something attached to your finger."

By taking measurements from the wrist, the team said that they are able to take measurements all day and night unobtrusively. What differentiates the team from others who have noticed the value of a wearable oximeter, is their target users.


"Wrist Oximeter Animation Concept" created by Nick Iwuc, from

"There's one other company that's taking readings from the wrist," said Maria Morrow, the Troxie's software development expert. "But they're not on the market and it's marketed towards adults. Ours is pediatric focused from 5 to 17 (years old.)"

This age range was chosen with a specific purpose.

"I have asthma, and when I have an asthma attack, I have to use my inhaler — I have to have it on me," Morrow said. "Kids ranging 5 to 17 may not know exactly when they're having an asthma attack, or have their inhaler on them. This will be good in the sense that the parent has more ability to do that intervention and make sure their child is staying at levels that are good."

Now that Troxie has a fully fledged idea of what they're bringing to market, the team needs to actually build their prototype.

"We did the hardware, now we're working on coding and integrating it into a wearable device," Morrow said.

The team said there aren't really any competitors in the space with anything designed for pediatrics. For people who had asthma growing up, like Morrow and the team's industrial designer, Samantha Brenner, not having easy access to an oximeter was a hassle.

The Troxie team said that they've has also worked alongside doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital to gain their insight, as well as that of parents and kids.

The team is brand new, having only formed in August, but Van Bussum said Troxie has come up with some grand aspirations.

"Right now, we are looking at a year timeline to get our fully functional wearable prototype that can go to a customer," Van Bussum said. "And then beyond that, probably another six months to a year to actually get widespread customer acquisitions and get it into the market." 

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