PALM – Breathing New Life into Asthma Treatment

  • 2023

  • Design Research

Commissioned By:

Monash University

Designed In:


Globally, over 400 Million suffer from asthma yet the classic “blue puffer” has not seen innovation in nearly 70 years. PALM is a patient-centred solution leveraging innovative microfluidic technology to breathe new life into inhaled therapy. We make inhaled therapy seamless through a tailored easy-to-use and data-driven experience.

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  • Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) disproportionately affect children and the elderly. The standard “puffer” requires high levels of coordination and education to be used correctly, presenting major barriers for these demographics. Our research uncovered untackled lifestyle challenges of living with these conditions. Spacers alleviate coordination issues with puffers but remove the portability and speed of inhalers. Meanwhile, unexpected weather events such as storms that raise pollen levels can send sufferers to hospital and in some cases, lead to death. Sufferers are in need of more than just a new inhaler, they need managing their health to be simplified.

  • Our innovative Personalised Airway and Lung Management device, or PALM, stems from utilising our unique aerosolising technology with an intuitive, data-driven experience. Multiple years of engagement with hundreds of patients and importantly the key stakeholders that surround them, has enabled us to develop a solution that solves numerous user problems while also enriching the experience. By providing breath-activated medication, an ergonomic and discrete ‘palm’ sized form and data tracking, we help users to reduce medication use, improve the efficacy of their treatment and manage their own complex health routine. These factors assist with preventing serious injury while improving patient-clinician engagement.

  • Australia has the highest rate of asthma per capita in the world, while COPD is our 5th leading cause of death. Our research will help to reduce the 13 million missed school days for children with asthma and improve the livelihood of COPD sufferers. Puffers create significant negative impacts on the environment as they are single-use and use harmful hydrofluorocarbon propellants. Our high-tech solution is reusable and uses no propellants. Our research has attracted significant government funding and engagement with relevant industry partners. Asthma and COPD sufferers need a better inhaler, but more importantly, a better system and user experience.

  • Through our research, users told us how tracking their use of inhalers, weather, pollen, medication, doctor visits and dosage can be extremely tough to manage. PALM is designed to capture how they use the device while incorporating public data on weather and pollen to warn users of potentially exacerbating environmental conditions. This is done through an app that promotes users to track their health while creating a pool of data that will inform future research. This combined with our translational research will continue to uncover unexpected insights into user needs and generate high-value and innovative design and technology solutions. Currently, inhalers are designed with a one-size-fits-all approach. PALM provides the first tailored experience through breath-activated medication, modular components to accommodate hand and face sizes, and cleanable components to ensure a long lifecycle. We’ve also designed with human lifestyles in mind. Many users have routines as to when, where and how they use inhalers. Our device makes charging in the home seamless, managing devices across families simple and transporting devices robust and sanitary. PALM is designed to last and become a personalised support system for any type of user.