Imperial College London

Hackers come together to combat respiratory illnesses


The 'BREATHE' Respiratory Hackathon

The 'BREATHE' Respiratory Hackathon

Coders, patients, medics and innovators came together to develop devices that could assist people with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

In the UK, COPD affects around one in ten adults over the age of 40 and it kills more women than breast cancer. It causes the airways to become narrowed, leading to shortness of breath. The condition is hard to treat so it usually becomes progressively worse. It is a major global health challenge; according to the World Health Organisation more than three million people died from COPD in 2012.

The 'BREATHE' Respiratory Hackathon, organised by Imperial College Advanced Hackspace, was held on 19 and 20 September. It brought together designers, technicians, engineers, patients, doctors, coders, healthcare specialists and innovators. The aim was to develop innovations and devices to improve the lives of millions worldwide who suffer from COPD and other respiratory diseases.

In the video, Professor Peter John Barnes, the mostly highly cited researcher in the world of respiratory medicine from Imperial’s National Heart & Lung Institute, along with his fellow hackers, talk about the usefulness of events like 'BREATHE' in helping to combat respiratory illnesses. 


YouTube placeholder

During the two-day event, patients shared their experiences of living with COPD. Participants were divided into teams and given free rein to explore solutions to many of the problems patients face in their lives. The hackers split into teams to develop new hybrid health devices made from existing technology donated from Industry.

Team Pro-Lung Experience was nominated by a panel of judges at the Hackathon as the best concept developed at the event. The team created a game for young children who are vulnerable and susceptible to begin a smoking habit. It was presented by the team at the European Respiratory Society Congress in Amsterdam in late September 2015, where Europe’s leading researchers in the field were gathered.


Colin Smith

Colin Smith
Communications and Public Affairs

Click to expand or contract

Contact details

Show all stories by this author


See more tags

Leave a comment

Your comment may be published, displaying your name as you provide it, unless you request otherwise. Your contact details will never be published.