I had the chance to speak with Pat Mayer, Executive Vice President of Global Sales for Somnetics. Pat founded the company in 2011 and, as a CPAP user himself and frequent traveler, he is "not only the president but a customer too."
Hi Pat, thank you for joining me today. To my knowledge, the original Transcend was the first “travel” PAP on the market, which was really a ground-breathing concept. Please tell me its origin story.
Yes, Transcend was the first dedicated travel PAP on the market, intended to make life easier for sleep apnea sufferers who sometimes had to sleep away from home, whether it was for work or vacation. But small size wasn’t the only feature to make Transcend travel-friendly. We recognized that CPAP also needed to be as easy to use once you arrived at your destination, so from the beginning accessories were offered that gave users the freedom to sleep anywhere. We have founding employees who have been involved in the sleep industry for decades, so their contributions to technology and design gave us a distinct advantage, especially for a new product.
Tell me about Transcend’s parent company, Somnetics: where are you located and what’s the company culture like?
Somnetics is located in Fridley, MN, a northern suburb of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Our culture is certainly close-knit, and many of our employees have been with us since day one back in 2010. Employees take pride in our product and how it serves those who benefit from it. When we receive feedback from consumers who tell us how happy they are with their miniCPAP it is shared with everyone.
How have you seen the market for portable PAP equipment evolve since the Transcend debuted?
There have been some competitive travel devices introduced, which confirms the need for the space that Transcend created. However, demand is still high for the original innovation of Transcend, especially because of our very broad range of accessories that make it useful in so many environments.
The original Transcend had a distinctive teardrop or bean-shaped appearance. Where did that design come from?
The original design was for the purpose of wearing it on your head and using headgear that supported both the CPAP and nasal mask. Additionally, the patient could use our industry-first HME system to offer humidification without the need for water, and, a small portable battery that could be attached to an armband for complete portability. While the original design was popular for its utility, in 2010 we added a base station so that the unit could be placed on a nightstand, and also so that any mask type could be used. This greatly increased the usefulness and the popularity of the Transcend.
In 2019, Somnetics introduced two new PAP machine lines, the Transcend 3, which is an updated version of the Transcend, and the Transcend 365, which has an innovative internal humidifier that provides moisture on inhalation only.
What was the impetus for updating the Transcend? What are the main differences with the new iteration?
The Transcend 3 platform benefitted from flattening the base for stability purposes when not using our base station, and adding a standard connector so that any hose could be used without the need for a hose adaptor. The other changes were purely cosmetics to modernize the device. The Transcend 365 was created to serve those CPAP users who want a complete solution in an “everyday” device. The 365 offers every feature of traditional home CPAPs, including all therapy functions, full compliance reporting, a built-in screen for programming and data review, and an innovative heated humidifier, all in a device that’s half the size of competitive devices for everyday use.
Who would benefit from the Transcend 365 and why?
The Transcend 365 is perfect for anyone who needs daily CPAP therapy, whether they’re at home or traveling, and can’t compromise on features. The T365 offers every feature a patient needs at home, but also delivers it in a small, portable size that allows the device to travel easily with no compromise. Therapy and heated humidification are available wherever you would want to sleep, even “off the grid” with the available option of the P10 battery that runs both the CPAP and the heated humidifier, using a minimum amount of water for the night.
Regarding the 365, what should patients expect in terms of how long the humidification will last and how well it will prevent dryness compared to a “regular” PAP machine with a full-size internal heated humidifier?
The 365 uses an innovative technology for its heated humidifier, utilizing a special technology which wicks water from the reservoir and delivers humidity only on inhalation, when the patient needs it and then shuts off on inhalation. Not only does the patient get full humidification, but they get it virtually instantly as there is no need for the humidifier to “preheat”. This method uses approximately half the water of a full-size heated humidifier, and the low power consumption makes it possible to be battery-powered if AC power is unavailable.
I often reference the Transcend solar power charging option for my patients who like to “unplug” on vacations such as backcountry campers. What are the most popular accessories for the Transcend machines?
The P8 Multi-night battery is the most popular option and nearly half of all Transcend CPAP purchases include it. The P8 pairs perfectly with the Portable Solar Charger for anyone who wants to camp and will need to be away from AC power indefinitely. It’s also a great combination for storm season when it’s possible to lose electricity for days. The P10 battery is the power option for the T365, which operates both the CPAP and the humidifier. Lastly, our innovative Portable Water Filter allows tap or bottled water to be cleaned to a level that’s usable for the T365 humidifier.
What do you think the Transcend line of machines does better than the other portable PAP machines on the market?
Transcend offers the most complete line of accessories of all travel/portable CPAPs on the market. For the T3 we offer the P4 and P8 batteries, the Portable Solar Panel, the Mobile Power Adapter for DC Power use, as well as the included no charge accessories, the padded travel bag and an international plug kit that allows use around the world without needed to buy separate adapters or convertors. The T365 offers fully-featured every day use no matter where you want to sleep with the available P10 battery.
Can you let us in on any new products that are in the pipeline?
Somnetics is always innovating, and several ideas are in the early stages. Stay tuned!
Joseph Krainin, M.D., FAASM is the founder of Singular Sleep, the world's first online sleep center. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and board-certified in both sleep medicine and neurology. He has been practicing medicine for over 10 years.