Jillian Miller Somnum: Pet-Friendly Anaesthesia Equipment

  • Tauira / Student
    Jillian Miller
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Rodney Adank, Yueyun Song
  • School
    Massey University College of Creative Arts
Judge's comments:

Pet friendly anaesthesia equipment. The judges were impressed with the depth of research, and quality of product design for what appears to be a gap in the market. The level of prototyping and refinement made for a standout project.


Somnum stemmed from volunteering at a veterinary clinic. When talking to female nurses about what could be improved anaesthesia masks were their first answers.

Anaesthesia masks are designed to create a comfortable seal around an animal’s face so that anesthetic gases can be administered to them.

Current masks on the market often fail to create appropriate seals, this causes gases to leak out into the atmosphere - These are called “waste gases” or “WAGs”.

Isoflurane is one of the most commonly used anesthetic gases in New Zealand. Acute exposure to it can cause headaches, nausea, and fatigue. It has also been linked to chronic illnesses such as the development of cancers and it poses a threat to pregnant people as it can cause spontaneous abortions.

Through my field research in New Zealand, I saw the various ways clinics and zoos had attempted to address waste gas leaks. Paint buckets and old plastic packaging were used as a base for the mask while the seal itself was comprised of either clip-wrap or rubber gloves that could be stretched taught.

This not only created mass amounts of waste but also showed the shortcomings of the readily available masks that were often, if not always, modified.

Somnum is both an animal and human solution. The goal of the project was to create a comfortable seal on the patient’s face whilst also being easy to use and safe for humans. Currently, Somnum accommodates most small domesticated animals.

The product is made up of 3 main sections:

Seal. This is detachable for easy cleaning. The ear decals on the top represent the different styles of seals of which there are multiple, this allows a customised fit. The bottom is squared to stop the mask from rolling on the table.

Dome. The clear dome features hand indents for better grip, it also has a recessed ridge that the seal attaches to.

Collapsible Top. This is designed to address dead space (any areas in the mask that are empty). Dead space can cause inconsistencies in the administration of anaesthetic inhalants. Should the patient have a long snout the mask can be extended without having to scale up to a different dome size. There is also a connector valve at the top making Somnum compatible with all standard anaesthesia machines.

Somnum: Pet-Friendly Anaesthesia Equipment has been developed with the goal of bettering both animal patient and human users' lives through considerate design.