With active COVID-19 cases in British Columbia continuing to hover at levels higher than seen during the province's initial spike in March and April, a Simon Fraser University professor is hoping to help fight a second wave of hospitalizations.

Woo Soo Kim is an associate professor in SFU's engineering department, and he's spent the last six months working on a prototype for a portable ventilator.

"We are really interested in helping others by using our engineering skills," Kim told CTV News Vancouver.

While standard ventilators can cost tens of thousands of dollars apiece, Kim estimates his design costs less than $600. It's made using a 3-D printer, which means the design could be shared widely and replicated by those who need it, including in settings outside of hospitals, such as long-term care facilities.

"(A) hospital-setting ventilator is a bit expensive," Kim said. "We are focused on a portable ventilator for preparation for (a) second- or third-wave pandemic situation."

The design is based on origami, using a flexible tube in place of the bag that might be used in a typical ventilator.

"(A) conventional ventilator has an air tube inside with an airbag, like a rubber bag or something," Kim said. "We changed that concept to an origami concept. Origami is a kind of bending and releasing concept in 3-D structures."

The design of the origami-inspired tube also allows for customization to reflect specific patients' needs, according to Kim.

While mass-production of the portable, 3-D printed ventilators is still months away, Kim says the prototype will be tested by respiratory therapists from Vancouver Coastal Health.

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Nafeesa Karim