“Forget the mask, breathe normally,” was stated by Estonia’s ex-president Toomas Hendrik Ilves after using Respiray. This Estonian tech company supplies wearable air purifiers enabling people to see the facial expressions of the user. Tests at the University of Lodz and Tartu University confirmed a 99% efficiency rate.
The company also brought a couple of Respirays to our Briefing Centre – for the use of our speakers Ms. Anett Numa and Mr. Florian Marcus. The purifiers got their media christening during the visit of the Spanish Foreign Minister, Mrs. Arancha González Laya who posed with Ms. Anett Numa and our new managing director Mrs. Ave Lauringson, both wearing Respirays and the minister on her part the most common accessory of the pandemic times – the blue surgical mask. The Spanish media tweeted a storm after the photo surfaced and info requests about Respiray started pouring in at the Estonian embassy in Madrid, too.
So how does this work?
The air purifier works on two principles – the fluid dynamics of breathing and the disinfection effect of ultraviolet light. When breathing, the majority of inhaled air comes from airflows that rise on a person’s body surface. The latter is contradictory to the general belief that breathing is more or less horizontal. For this reason, the engineers strategically designed the product as a wearable device.
Air enters the device from the bottom part of the air purifier. The air volume first goes through the intake filter, which filters out dust and larger particles. The air flows through the UV module inactivating over 99% of viruses and bacteria. The device ventilates air out from the upper part of the gadget towards the person’s face. The air purifier provides a maximum purified airflow of 55 litres per minute, 3-4x more than an average person at rest breathes.
Do we still need masks? Yes and no. The device has two different sized attachable face shields for extra protection included in the package. Respiray recommends using the face shield when walking around and in crowded places.
Designed for businesses and private consumers
Respiray shipped the first batch of one thousand devices to the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research, Euronics, Alexela and multiple Nasdaq-listed companies including Coop Pank, Merko Ehitus, Tallinna Kaubamaja Grupp, and to private customers in seven countries throughout Europe.
The former president of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, received the very first device. According to Respiray’s founder Indrek Neivelt, Ilves performed a vital role in the product development phase.
“While developing our UV-C disinfection module, Ilves had just joined the working group of the World Health Organization. We approached him to find laboratories for testing our module. When sparring ideas with Ilves, he suggested making our device wearable around the neck. Our team had been working on a similar concept, which gave us the confidence to proceed. The former president has always been a strong supporter of the Estonian start-up community, and our team expresses immense gratitude for sharing his ideas. I hope the device meets his expectations,” said Neivelt.
After receiving the device, Ilves did not hold himself back on Twitter. “Forget the mask. Breathe normally. Yet another Estonian tech invention. Estonia, innovation is native,” he said.
Tested at two universities
The University of Tartu in Estonia and the University of Łódź in Poland held Respiray’s UV-C module lab testing sessions. In the Łódź test, the patent-pending disinfection module achieved 99.7% and 99.9% reduction against E.coli and S.aureus bacteria. The module achieved 99.4% effectiveness of inactivating Alphavirus in the Tartu study. Here’s the information about Respiray’s research.
Our verdict – what do we think of the air purifiers?
Our team at e-Estonia Briefing Centre also had the pleasure to test Respiray’s wearable air purifiers. “I really enjoyed the poofs of fresh and cool air that I felt on my face while using Respiray,” Anett Numa says. “I’m a big fan of USB-C being used for its charging, it’s the environmentally friendly choice,” Florian Marcus added. Our Head of Communication, Mrs. Maris Orav, praises the purifiers futuristic design. “It looks good but it is also functional – despite its weight it still feels light and helps you keep a straight posture.”
Skype´s co-founder among the investors
Respiray was founded by Aleksandr Frorip, Robert Arus, and Indrek Neivelt – the founder of Pocosys, a company acquired by Norwegian software company Opera in 2020. Respiray is funded by a research and development company, Ldiamon, with 15 years of expertise in developing and manufacturing medical UV-C LED sensors for leading medical companies across Europe. Respiray has raised a total of 1.2 million euros, including from Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn’s investment vehicle Metaplanet Holdings.