Need based innovation. Everything began with one man’s battle against his breathing problems.


Aulis, where did it all began?

It really all began before I was born.
It was passed on to me as an inheritance from one of my ancestors: wheezing and shortness of breath that crept into my bed, especially during the dark hours of the winter nights. I was afraid I was suffocating. This is why my strongest childhood memories are related to breathing.

Back in those days, in the 1950s, stories were told of people with lung diseases who ended up in a sanatorium. By no means did I want to leave home, so I was trying hard to keep my breathing problems a secret. That’s why the problem was not diagnosed. Also, living conditions in those days taught me to adapt to minor wheezing and other ailments.

However, I was perplexed when I took part in skiing competitions. I took off fast, but right from the start I felt like I was running out of oxygen. I got used to thinking that I wasn’t very athletic. That is why I focused my energy on thinking about people’s needs and the solutions that they need.

I finished primary school and quickly settled into working life. Hard physical work, sometimes too hard, helped my airways stay open, even though they were sometimes a bit wheezy. Now, I think hard work saved me from suffocating in the mucus and snot. After all, I’ve been a real mucus factory all my life.

Then, as I progressed into an entrepreneurial career from manual labour to more mental work, my body stopped defending me. The breathing problems started to build up.

In the early 2000s, the challenges of running a business aggravated my breathing problems, and my body rebelled. I had cramps, worsening insomnia and cardiac arrhythmia.

I didn’t let it get me down, but rather I was always looking for solutions. I became a sauna enthusiast, because as a child I had noticed that breathing was easier in the sauna. I realized that steam and humidity have an effect on my breathing. Then, once when I sought help for my respiratory problems at a healthcare center, an experienced nurse gave me an empty medicine bottle and a piece of tubing and urged me to blow into the bottle.

I found that it relieved the wheezing. As a problem-solving professional I started to think about this experience more closely and I combined two things. I realized that positive expiratory pressure could open up the airways, allowing the steam to travel very deep into the problem area. The efficiency of steam inhalation would be improved. All I had to do is design a device that could combine these two good solutions to work together.

I made the first rudimentary prototype myself, and right after my first experiment, I knew that I was on the right track. I was convinced that the idea worked well after the first prototype experiments.

I put together a team and together we developed the right prototype. We defined it as a respiratory therapy device and gave it the name WellO2.

The journey from idea to commercial innovation is often very long. Numerous design and manufacturing problems needed to be solved before the product coould be offered to consumers. WellO2 is now ready. It has been type-approved and sales began in Finnish pharmacies in October-November 2016.

I have used my own WellO2 now for more than 10 years, every morning and evening for a few minutes.

My lungs work better than ever before, and the usual the cramps and arrhythmias that used to be a normal occurrence for me have also been reduced. My long-lost singing voice has become clearer and problems sleeping have been alleviated.

I still react very sensitively to different irritants such as flowers, scents, textiles, air pollutants and so on. Not all potential exposures are always predictable, so occasionally wheezing and shortness of breath (dyspnea) will strike. In this case, the exhalation values may fall by 20-50%. At home, I use WellO2 to remedy the situation. I blow into the device with a long, gentle exhalation lasting about 10-15 seconds. I then calmly fill my lungs with warm steam through the device, which mixes replacement air through a separate opening. After each blow-suck repetition, I breathe freely a few times before repeating. I find that with repetitions my breathing capacity starts to increase and I repeat this 5-10 times. After 5 to 10 inhalations and exhalations, my breathing values are close to normal.

By experimenting I have set the pace for the daily use of the device:

  • In morning after a long night I open my breathing with WellO2 for 5-10 reps (I do this while waiting for my morning coffee).
  • In the evening I repeat the same, and if I go jogging, I open my breathing when I leave, and my breathing flows better.
  • If I wake up at night with shortness of breath, I do a WellO2 exercise which usually stops the mucus factory and soothes the situation.

I call this method WellO2 Respiratory Therapy. I repeat it every morning and evening and more often if necessary. Compared to the time before WellO2, my lungs stay clean. The mucus does not accumulate in the lungs and I can breathe easily.

At present, lung function values measured using spirometry are about 10 percent better than in the early 1990s. They are 1.4 times better than the average of healthy people my age.

WellO2‘s story now continues under the auspices of Hapella, a wellness technology company. The company developed the prototype into a unique commercial product, the Respiratory Therapy device, and first launched it on the domestic market, in Finland.

I recommend WellO2 to anyone who wants to increase their respiratory well-being and thereby their whole body’s vitality and their quality of life. I also believe that the device is suitable for people who, for whatever reason, are unable to maintain their fitness through adequate exercise, as WellO2 breathing therapy can influence one’s well-being while sitting at a kitchen table.

WellO2 benefits that your body will thank you for:

  • Respiratory well-being and improving it
  • Strengthening of respiratory muscles
  • More efficient or lighter breathing
  • Moisturizing airways and reducing irritation
  • Improving efficiency and everyday performance
  • Increasing general well-being and vitality
  • Improving chest wall mobility
  • Reducing stress with breathing exercises
  • Improving the quality of sleep

Aulis Kärkkäinen
Entrepreneur, Inventor
Kiuruvesi, Finland