Dr David White was working on some deep tech around pressurised nasal breathing in late 2018 and wondered how you might get similar benefits without the pressure factor. He slept on it and woke the next morning with the solution – nosebuds.
White is Associate Professor at The Auckland University of Technology BioDesign Lab. This world-class facility develops ambitious technologies that solve real, human problems by harnessing and enhancing the power of the human body’s natural defense systems.
There was another device on the market but it wasn’t a face wearable; it was held in front of the face and the noise from the humming was a problem.
“My research assistant, Jacob de Lesseps used CAD modelling and 3D printing to create a prototype all-in-one device that fitted across both nostrils and hummed on one side at a time,” says White. AUT Industrial Design student Oscar Zong then helped evolve the design into separate nosebuds which solved the humming problem and also solved another problem. With two separate buds, they could cater for just about any nose size and configuration. Zong’s work on the prototype won him an award and helped lay the foundations for Goodair Nosebuds.
But would a face wearable work? “In Asia, wearing a face mask is seen as respectful whereas Europeans often connect them with ancient plagues, viewing them as a negative,” says White. Enter COVID-19 when White wore the prototype around town, at meetings, carrying on his life as usual. COVID-19 raised awareness of airborne pathogens and introduced the world to face wearables and their health benefits, helping Goodair’s commercialisation pathway.
The nosebuds decongest the nose and airways, improve sense of smell, reduce nasal pressure, improve sleep if used before bed, and could relieve stress and anxiety by stimulating the para-sympathetic nervous system.
How do they work? It’s all about humming and pacing your breathing. During nasal breathing, energy from the diaphragm enables the humming sound and vibrations to be generated with sufficient power to benefit the complete upper airway. Humming augments airflow through the sinuses and releases a gas called nitric oxide that is naturally produced by the body to protect airways. “Unaided humming requires exhalation, resulting in the loss of most of nasal nitric oxide. Goodair nose buds create humming during inhalation and exhalation, increasing the concentration of nitric oxide you inhale,” says White.
“The nose protects our airways and was designed for breathing and smelling while the mouth was designed for eating, drinking and speaking. If you don’t breathe through your nose, it will eventually become blocked. Humming can help unblock your nose so that you can breathe properly and improve your overall health.
“Goodair nosebuds provide audible humming and vibration within the nose to help pace breathing, making people aware of their breath rate and pattern and helping transition them away from the mouth breathing associated with many negative health and wellbeing outcomes,” says White.
White says they’re heading to commercialisation, partnering last year with Ragdoll Group. “We established Goodair, built our brand, and now have a CEO and commercialisation team in place – and that’s crucial. My strength is in science and research; getting to market requires leadership, regulatory, management and marketing skills. We will have a much better chance of commercialisation success by partnering with people who’ve worked in the startup sector before and working collaboratively.”
White is championing commercialisation for other reasons as well. “I really enjoy the medtech sector but I feel New Zealand as a nation has largely lost that Number 8 fencing wire mentality. We have some very clever thinkers and viable networks, but we need to be bringing in and supporting younger people.”
Goodair has recently received seed funding and would like to be in the wellbeing market within a year with a shift to the medical market after that.