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Reason #325,140 to love the Raspberry Pi? It could save your life

The Raspberry Pi microcomputer, when it’s all said and done, might be one of the most important pieces of technology of the early 21st century.

For years we’ve enjoyed the multitude of ingenious use cases for the cheap-as-chips motherboard, while it has played a critical role in bringing coding into the mainstream curriculum.

Next on the Pi’s growing list of achievements is a potentially life-saving ventilator that could be used to treat coronavirus patients and ease a chronic shortage of the critical care apparatus.

The prototype ventilator, which has a Raspberry Pi Zero at the heart and is built with low-cost, easy-to-source equipment, is to be tested at universities in Bogota, Colombia.

Related: Incredible Raspberry Pi projects

Robotics engineer Marco Mascorro built the device and posted the open-source plans online last month. He has since refined the equipment following feedback from those in the healthcare industry.

Marco Mascorro, “I am a true believer that technology can solve a lot of the problems we have right now specifically in this pandemic,” he told the BBC. “The beauty of developing a software-centric system is we can make changes to the processes without doing much to the hardware.”

If tests at the University Hospital of the Pontifical Xavierian University and Los Andes University are successful, it is hoped the necessary approval time can be slashed in order to get the ventilators to front line workers in time to save lives of COVID-19 patients. It’s possible the Pi-powered ventilators can enter mass production soon and be on hospital ICU wards by the middle of 2020.

In the past we’ve seen Raspberry Pi bakers come up within brilliant versions of retro games consoles, electric skateboards, walkie-talkies, electronic chess boards and so much more. However, this might prove to be the most important project of all. Let’s hope everything runs smoothly.

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