Caire is celebrating 20 years of patient access to portable oxygen concentrators after the original AirSep “Lifestyle” POC was launched in 2002.

Two decades ago, oxygen users all over the world had two therapeutic options for mobility — gas cylinders or a portable liquid oxygen device. Many lived life tethered to an at-home oxygen source, and were very limited in their ability to travel or maintain a healthy level of activity. That changed with the launch of the first portable oxygen concentrator, the LifeStyle — developed and marketed by Caire — dramatically improving the quality of life for oxygen users worldwide.

“For us, pioneering the first portable oxygen concentrator has long been both a point of pride, and an ongoing incentive to continue to innovate and develop those technologies that will ensure clinically efficacious oxygen delivery and an improved quality of life for all of our users around the world,” said Earl Lawson, CEO of CAIRE Inc.

Introduced under Caire’s AirSep brand, the LifeStyle portable oxygen concentrator, was the brainchild of then Vice President of Research and Development, Norman “Norm” McCombs, who modeled the size and weight of the device on his wife’s handbag which weighed in at 9.75 lbs.

Harnessing specialized technology to separate the components of air, the portable oxygen concentrator operates by taking ambient air, filtering and compressing it and then delivering up to 95 percent purified oxygen to the user via a nasal cannula. Operational via battery, electrical, or motor vehicle power, the device allowed the user the convenience of taking their oxygen source anywhere, with the ability to plug-in and recharge extending their time away from home and encouraging them to live an active lifestyle with few restrictions.

The LifeStyle would be the first POC to gain FAA approval for commercial air flights in 2005, paving the way for all POCs that would come after.

McCombs was recognized for his contributions by US President Barack Obama in 2013 who presented him with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House. The award acknowledged McCombs’s development and commercialization of pressure swing adsorption oxygen-supply systems with a wide range of medical and commercial applications, leading to improved health, substantially reduced healthcare costs and positive impacts on the environment.

The LIfeStyle paved the way for the FreeStyle series, and the world’s smallest portable oxygen concentrator, the Focus. These products lead the way in innovations in portable oxygen concentrators — lighter weight, expanded settings, clinical features — culminating in today’s FreeStyle Comfort. Introduced in 2018, this therapeutic medical device expands on the innovations of the past 20 years — recently outperforming six competitive devices in seven out of eight breathing scenarios through a COPD simulated protocol designed to assess the ability of these devices to effectively deliver oxygen to patients.1 

Equipped with propriety, smart oxygen delivery technologies, the FreeStyle Comfort is designed to ensure effective oxygen delivery to best support long-term oxygen therapy patients maintain an active, healthy, and fulfilled lifestyle. 

UltraSense technology detects the pressure change in the nasal cannula as the patient takes a breath and ensures that the bolus, or puff of oxygen, is delivered in conjunction with the breath rate, and autoDose responsive technology delivers oxygen automatically even if no breath is detected.

Additionally, the FreeStyle Comfort can wirelessly connect to the myCaire telehealth solution uniquely designed for medical equipment providers who want to enhance care for their oxygen users.


1. Culbreth, R. et al. Comparison of portable oxygen concentrators and inspired oxygen levels using a COPD patient simulation model.

Portable Oxygen Concentrators