Enhancing Ventilator Performance Through Pressure Sensor Innovation

Ventilator Sketch

Medical Ventilator Market

Medical ventilators are advanced air circulation systems engineered to facilitate breathing for patients incapable of doing so independently. Various categories of medical ventilators are utilized for different scenarios:

  1. Transport Ventilators: These are generally employed by first responders, ambulance services, and helicopter transports. In urgent situations, these electronic ventilators provide initial breathing assistance to patients until they can be transferred to a hospital. They are more compact and robust than their hospital counterparts, offering diverse power source options.
  2. Intensive Care (ICU) Ventilators: These larger ventilators are situated in hospitals and powered by AC electricity. They’re commonly used in surgical and ICU sections of hospitals, boasting the most comprehensive features and capabilities.
  3. Critical Care Ventilators: Although they may lack some of the features of ICU ventilators, they are equipped with enough functionality to manage emergencies and long-term critical ventilation situations. These types of ventilators are typically found in Emergency Departments and specialized care units within hospitals.
  4. Home Ventilators: These are smaller devices for patients who aren’t fully capable of breathing without assistance upon being discharged from the hospital. If a patient hasn’t been weaned off ventilation during their hospital stay, a home ventilator is used to continue supporting their breathing until they can do it on their own.

You might often hear about adult and neonatal ventilators. Neonatal ventilators are a particular type of medical ventilator designed for neonatal and infant patients, providing lower and more precise ventilation rates.

Modern medical ventilation systems are electronically controlled via embedded processing to meticulously regulate air pressure and flow according to each patient’s specific needs. These systems are categorized as life-critical since any system failure could result in severe patient harm. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, medical ventilators were a fundamental part of hospital care. However, over the past several years, the demand for these devices has surged dramatically.

Hospitals routinely utilize high-pressure ventilators that are tank-based and integrated into their infrastructure. However, the trend in medical ventilation today is shifting towards more portable solutions, namely low-pressure units. These mobile units either come equipped with a miniaturized O2 tank or function entirely without one. The key advantage of these devices lies in their transportability, facilitating easy movement along with the patient or swift repositioning to areas where they’re most needed.

In contrast to traditional full-sized tanks, these modern systems employ a blower mechanism to produce the required air on demand. This blower operates similarly to a standard fan, using blades to create airflow. Nevertheless, an issue that arises from this setup is the noise generated by the blades, which poses a challenge that needs addressing to guarantee accurate and efficient operation.

Image of ventilators

Figure 1 – Examples of Low-Pressure Medical Ventilators

Superior Sensor VN Series Improves Ventilator Performance

Numerous medical studies suggest that about one-third of patients frequently experience dyssynchrony during mechanical ventilation, which is when the ventilator doesn’t align with the patient’s breathing needs. This issue can lead to discomfort, increased respiratory work, lung damage, extended ventilator reliance, and weaning confusion. To enhance synchrony, ventilators must reduce system noise and respond faster to patient breathing demands.

Pressure sensors in ventilators, crucial for monitoring and controlling airflow, can be affected by system noise from internal blowers and external vibrations. In addition, traditional systems often slow down response time by oversampling sensor data, further complicating the issue.

The VN Series by Superior Sensor employs a cutting-edge oversampling technique that effectively eradicates all noise beyond the relevant band. The proprietary oversampling technology enables mechanical ventilators to utilize sensor outputs at their maximum speed, doing away with the need for oversampling sensor outputs, which can decelerate system response time by as much as tenfold.

The series comprises seven devices, each catering to a broad spectrum of system applications, ranging from flow measurement to inlet, inspiratory, expiratory, and barometric pressures. The use of advanced digital processing substantially minimizes the interference of system-level noise. Furthermore, the sensors, equipped with 24-bit output resolution, enhanced filtering, extraordinary zero stability, and support for an update rate exceeding 1 kHz, have been engineered to optimize system accuracy and lower error rates. This is especially beneficial for patients in life-critical respiratory situations.

The table below showcases the uses of the different sensors within the VN Series:

VN Series Table

Table 1 – VN Series Product Family

The VN026CM and VN131CM come with extreme resolution, which enhances the sensor’s effective resolution, amplifies the dynamic range, and further lowers the noise floor by an additional 20 dB. With the industry’s lowest noise floor, the VN026CM and VN131CM offer manufacturers unique single-sensor solutions that cater to a wide spectrum of respiratory requirements, from neonates to adults, for the first time.

VN Effective Resolution Graph

Graph 1 – Comparing Extreme Resolution to Standard Resolution and Competitive Offerings

The VN Series sensors provide additional integrated features like advanced digital filtering and a three-mode pressure switch. These capabilities transform the pressure sensors into sensing sub-systems, thereby enhancing manufacturing efficiency and reliability. Every sensor in the VN Series shares the same footprint and is pin-compatible with the others in the series. This simplifies PCB layouts and allows manufacturers to effortlessly interchange VN Series sensors for various applications.


The VN Series utilizes advanced digital signal processing and noise filtering techniques to optimize performance in medical ventilators. By enabling faster sensor data readout and eliminating noise, the VN Series sensors allow ventilators to respond more quickly and accurately to patient breathing patterns. The enhanced speed and precision, along with integrated advanced features like three-mode pressure switching, can significantly improve patient-ventilator synchrony and reduce discomfort. With industry-leading resolution and noise performance packed into a common footprint, the VN Series provides ventilator manufacturers with a versatile pressure-sensing solution to boost system reliability and better serve critical care patients.

Major worldwide ventilator manufacturers, such as Vyaire, have entrusted Superior Sensor Technology for their differential pressure sensor needs.  For more detailed information about our ventilator solutions or to learn how we can help improve the performance and reliability of your next ventilator product, please visit our VN Series product page or contact us.

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