Weightlifting for your lungs

Weightlifting for your lungs

One of the many patents that Chilean and Brazilian researchers from Natal have acquired over the years concerns strengthening the lungs through exercise. They decided to apply the principle in a device for athletes. After an initial attempt at a design by students, they knocked on Spark Brazil’s door.


The aim was an affordable, high-quality product, to be sold in better sports stores, which allows the user to create respiratory resistance in a controlled way. Spark project leader, Hugo Honijk: “The idea is that if you make breathing in and out more difficult, then it subsequently becomes easier. Weightlifting for your lungs, as it were. The Sputnik [the student’s prototype] worked, but it leaked, looked unsellable and you couldn’t set the resistance for breathing in and out independently of each other.” Clearly, there was work to be done, both in terms of the mechanics and the design.

Must-have gadget

The Spark team deconstructed the Sputnik down to the last screw. Honijk: “That was the challenge. See how everything was meant to work and then reconstruct it so that it works really well and it is sellable.”

It didn’t take long for the design to come together. Two separate chambers were required in order to make the airflows independently adjustable. Honijk: “In the design, that became two lungs, which join at the heart and continue in the ribbed windpipe. The coil springs that determine the resistance are regulated with a red and a blue ring. Red stands for oxygen-rich blood, blue for low oxygen.”

Spark is also designing the packaging for the Válvula, which needs to be in Brazilian stores in 2019. All in all, a striking and sporty design. “The Válvula will also be used for therapeutic treatments. But initially it needs to be must-have gadget, something that fits well with your sport equipment.”