"IT'S like you've climbed Mt Everest during the night and then you wake up in the morning feeling like you've been hit by a truck."
This is how Inventor and Kangaroo Valley resident Collin Anderson described living with sleep apnoea, a common breathing disorder that mostly affects males.
It occurs when the muscles of the tongue relax and block the airway during sleep which in turn increases the heart rate and blood pressure and causes the person to wake up suddenly.
"In my case I stopped breathing 250 times a night in an 8 hour period for about 35 second duration each time, " Collin said.
"The next day you could get headaches, feel tired and just cannot think straight."
The masks for sleep apnea sufferers have been around for about 30 years but after Collin first tried using one after he was diagnosed in 1994, he realised there was a real need for something better.
He and his wife Jill moved to Kangaroo Valley in 1991.
He was a mechanical engineer and toolmaker and had been running his own business since about 1975, designing and building special purpose machinery for companies including Victa Lawncare and Readers Digest.
After nine years of development in his Kangaroo Valley workshop and coming up with a number of different designs, he eventually created the TrueFit Custom CPAP mask.
"Innovation. That's what its all about and that's what I've been interested in my whole life," Collin said.
"This is a world-beating product. It's the only mask in the world that is custom made for the individual's face.
"Producing this in Australia would create a lot of jobs and bring in a lot of money once it went global.
"But we needed assistance to market it properly so we went to the Federal Government which liked the idea but couldn't help us with funding because we didn't employ enough people.
"So we then went to the State Government. They said they wanted to help us but the idea needed to go to a board because it was a medical product.
"We then found out two of the people on that board worked for a company that produced 'off the shelf' standard sleep apnoea masks already on the market so we didn't get very far.
"So we're sitting on a product that's worth half-a-billion dollars a year and we couldn't receive any help from our Governments.
"Seems to be we never give Australian inventors a real fair go.
"This is why most Australian inventors go overseas. There's something in our psyche that says its not good enough because it doesn't come from overseas."
Collin then met Scott Coulter who founded Brisbane-based Acurest in 2008 to manufacture and market the mask.
Collin took the product onto the ABC's New Inventors program in June 2011 where it beat competition from other inventors and could be in the running to win the Grand Final on August 17.
"The show has had a huge impact. The ABC had to engage a staff member for two days to answer the phones. Acurest's phones went into meltdown.
"Before the show had even finished airing Scott had 16 emails and had sold three masks.
"After the filming there were four people in the film crew that asked where could they get the masks either for themselves or their father."
The mask was released in the US in May but Acurest has held back on its promotion to try and clear the backlog of orders in Australia.
For more information visit the Acurest website at http://www.acurest.com.au.