Estonia’s Respiray gets funding, launches virus-killing wearable

Estonian startup Respiray launched its wearable air purifiers that disinfect over 99% of inhalable air and said it has raised an undisclosed amount of additional funding from Jaan Tallinn, cofounder of Skype and early investor in DeepMind, and from former Hansapank head Indrek Neivelt.

The air purifier is based on two principles – the thermodynamics of breathing and the disinfection effect of ultraviolet light. When breathing, the majority of inhaled air comes from airflows that rise on the body surface of a person. This is contradictory to the general belief that breathing is more or less horizontal. For this reason, the product is strategically designed 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 then flows through the UV-C LED module that inactivates over 99% of viruses and bacteria. The air volume is ventilated out from the upper part of the device towards the person’s face. The air purifier provides a maximum purified airflow of 55 litres per minute, which is 3-4x more than an average person at rest breathes.

“A person can breathe effortlessly, and other people see the facial expressions of the user,” said Respiray cofounder Robert Arus.

The retail price of the device is €279, with a pre-order special offer of €229 until March 31st, 2021. The device comes with two different sized attachable face shields for extra protection. “Face shields should be applied when walking among other people who are likely to break the 6 feet social distancing rule. The package includes two face shields with different sizes,” Arus said.

Respiray said it has preliminary agreements with Alexela, Coop Pank, Euronics, Merko Group and Tallinna Kaubamaja Group, that pilot devices with their customer service employees.

Photo by Egon Ligi

Respiray has also sealed a preliminary agreement with the The Estonian Ministry of Education and Research to pilot devices on teachers in the general education system. The orders are delivered in March.

“Respiray provides a fantastic example of how the collaboration between engineers, scientists, designers and entrepreneurs drives creative solutions for complex issues,” said Indrek Reimand, Deputy Secretary General at the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research.

“There’s no magic wand against the virus, but a number of endeavours in combination all contribute to the exit from the pandemic. The mixture of instrumental vehicles include vaccines, medicines, social distancing and air purifiers, that are engineered by Respiray’s product development team,” Reimand said.