Illinois RapidAlarm


Illinois RapidAlarm

Emergency ventilator sensor and alarm system

Access the Illinois RapidAlarm design


Illinois RapidAlarm published in IEEE

The team behind Illinois RapidAlarm has been published in IEEE peer-reviewed journal IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems (TBioCAS). The paper, "Low-Complexity System and Algorithm for an Emergency Ventilator Sensor and Alarm," reports the team’s work to build a low-cost, easy-to-produce electronic sensor and alarm system for pressure-cycled ventilators. The devices estimate clinically useful metrics, such as pressure and respiratory rate, and sound an alarm when the ventilator malfunctions.

Read the publication

Grainger College of Engineering team introduces Illinois RapidAlarm

Designs of alarm and sensor package for emergency ventilators now available for download

A team from The Grainger College of Engineering has released the design of an alarm and sensor package for emergency, pressure-cycled ventilators. Called Illinois RapidAlarm, it can be used with the Illinois RapidVent, as well as a wide range of commercial and developing emergency ventilators that would otherwise require constant monitoring by critical care staff, dramatically limiting the ability to provide care to more patients than available medical staff.

The Illinois RapidAlarm hardware designs, software designs, and documentation are available for download at Individuals and manufacturers can build the Illinois RapidAlarm from readily available parts and adapt the device to their needs.

“It was truly inspiring to have engineers from the University of Illinois’ Grainger College of Engineering, experts from Creative Thermal Solutions, and medical professionals for Carle Hospital working together quickly and efficiently to bring this device from concept to engineering prototype in such a short timeframe. The entrepreneurial spirit and engineering talent in this community clearly demonstrated the value that academic innovation ecosystems like ours provide the region, the state, and the nation,” said Andrew Singer, Fox Family Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Associate Dean for Innovation and Entrepreneurship in The Grainger College of Engineering.

“This was created with strong, continuous input from medical professionals at Carle Hospital and is made to be used by critical care medical staff for situations like those we are currently facing.  Engineering graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, faculty, and staff all pitched in to this project in a Herculean effort,” said Singer, who led the development of the RapidAlarm project.

Illinois RapidAlarm connects to an emergency ventilator and monitors pressure delivered to the patient airway. It sounds an audible alarm when the system is not operating properly or when the patient is showing signs of respiratory distress and displays information on oxygen pressure (PIP and PEEP) and the patient’s breathing rate (respiration rate).

"This was a truly collaborative process between the Carle medical staff and the Grainger Engineering team. The Illinois RapidAlarm system can be easily integrated into the connecting tubing for emergency ventilators, such as the Illinois RapidVent. It provides the basic alarms that I need to care for patients on emergency ventilators when those ventilators do not have internal alarm systems," Karen White, MD, PhD, an intensivist at Carle Foundation Hospital and a faculty member in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine.

Grainger Engineers are addressing the COVID-19 crisis is a variety of ways including RapidAlarm and RapidVent, personal protective equipment, COVID testing, and pandemic modeling and simulation. Find out more at:

Media Contact

Bill Bell
Executive Director, Marketing and Communications
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Grainger College of Engineering
(217) 265-5102


Demonstration of RapidAlarm connected to RapidVent ventilator system.


The University of Illinois is publishing the accompanying preliminary results of research (“content”) from faculty and employees of the University of Illinois (individually “Author” or collectively “Authors”). This publication only applies to the content provided here and does not apply to any other information, products, publications, or services of the Authors. Software related to this work is licensed under the MIT License; all other designs and documentation are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The content is being released in this manner to maximize the potential public benefit during this urgent need for measures to respond to the SARS-CoV-2 (also known as COVID-19) crisis, including promoting potential manufacturing pathways in light of the shortage of ventilators.

The content has not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Interested readers are encouraged to contact the FDA and review available FDA materials, such as the following guidance on ventilators:

PLEASE NOTE: The content has not been peer reviewed. The Authors make no representations or warranties of any kind (express or implied) relating to accuracy, safety, usefulness, usability, marketability, performance, or otherwise of the content released here. The Authors disclaim all express and implied warranties of merchantability and fitness of the content for a particular purpose, and disclaims all express and implied warranties regarding non-infringement of any patent, copyright, trademark, or other rights of third parties in the content or use of the content, or in the making, using, or selling products or services by any person or entity.

People or entities attempting to use the content in any way, including creating products or offering services, assume all risk and responsibility related to those uses, including all legal and regulatory compliance, safety, efficacy, performance, design, marketability, title, and quality. The Authors assume no liability related to the actions of third parties and in respect of any infringement of any patent, copyright, or other right of third parties.

The content has not been used in testing with humans at this time.

The Authors’ names and logos, and the names and logos of any partners listed on this website, are trademarks or other exclusive property of the Authors and those partners. Readers of the content shall not use the name or logo of any Author or partner in any way for publicity, advertising, or other commercial purposes, including linked to the reader’s products or services. Readers of the content shall not make statements or representations that, in Author’s or partner’s sole judgment, deliberately or inadvertently claim, suggest, or give the appearance or impression of a relationship with or endorsement by that Author or partner.