Chris Stiffler was an asthmatic who suffered from severe attacks. His own experiences led him to the creation of Wheezy, a device that monitors the breathing of wearers and can actually help to prevent asthma attacks.
While recovering from a severe asthma attack, Stiffler began writing code for an app that would log all of his breathing data. He also began sketching ideas and built a prototype that he began using himself. Wheezy is very close to the release of beta models, but the plans were put on hold. Stiffler recently suffered another severe asthma attack which took his life. Wheezy actually predicted the attack, but its warning wasn't quite enough. Stiffler, 35, left behind a wife, two kids, and his startup Vicinity Health.
Traditionally, asthmatics have to breathe into a tube attached to a spirometer to track their own lung function. A spirometer measures the volume of air that is moving in and out of the lungs. There are mobile apps out there that help asthmatics track respiratory information, but the data has to be inputed manually.
Wheezy makes the process just a little bit easier. The device plugs into the headphone jack on the user's smartphone. Patients breath into the other end of the device, which records the spirometic data in an associated app. The app then uses this, along with other data such as environmental conditions, and sleep and exercise patterns, to gauge when an attack might be likely.
The company behind Wheezy is committed to their plans, but Stiffler's death has put things on hold and forced the remaining employees to rethink the future of the company.
“He’s irreplaceable, but we’re going to identify what the next critical steps are,” said Scott Shrake, a engineer at Vicinity Health. “We want to put together a team around it that can do it justice. We’re going to deliver, but we have to strategize.”
Vicinity Health plans to sell Wheezy for $79 to $99, and $9 a month for the app subscription.
Stiffler's friends have created a YouCaring page to help raise funds to support his family. In the wake of his passing, Stiffler's wife and children are uncertain about their financial future.