No longer limiting themselves with simple cloth masks or those with dust/virus filters, manufacturers all over the world are now rushing to introduce hi-tech masks for the future.
The COVID-19 outbreak on a worldwide scale had completed transformed our perspective on mask usage. Now, we can easily catch people waring masks 24/7 in public, especially in socially distancing areas.
This demand has led to a rise in research and development of masks, with manufacturers quickly introducing many new models that look like they walk straight out of a sci-fi movie.
1. Interpreter mask
C-Face, a mask from the Japanese tech firm Donut Labs, looks like our everyday face mask, except made of white plastic. The special thing about this mask, however, is that it can interpret the wearer’s language into 8 different ones, including English, Chinese, French, Korean, Bahasa Indonesia, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
In particular, this mask works via Bluetooth connection with a smartphone and can either amplify the wearer’s voice or translate it into text.
Donut Labs is planning to deliver 5,000 of these interpreter masks to pre-orders in Japan during September, at the cost of around 37 USD per mask. To use the mask at its full capability, users will also need to purchase a separate monthly subscription for an interpreter app on their smartphones.
2. COVID-19 disinfection mask
The severity of COVID-19’s widespread infection had motivated many manufacturers around the world to research reusable masks, advertised as being able to destroy up to 99.99% of viruses and bacteria.
This Swiss manufacturer, in particular, claims to have successfully developed the 3-layered Livinguard mask, that can kill the coronavirus.
Livinguard is made of hi-tech materials that act as a positively-charged magnet which attracts negatively-charged bacteria, destroying bacterial cell walls, then push them out during disinfection.
Per advertisement, a Livinguard mask can be used 210 times, if washed after every 7 days, and is on the shelf from 26 USD to 40 USD.
Another notable product is the SonoMask from Israel. The mask only consists of two layers, but is covered by ZnO nanoparticles using supersonic technology. SonoMask is currently selling at 69 USD per mask, and can be reused for 90 washes.
A Portuguese company had also recently developed the MOxAd-Tech mask with similar functions, only at 10 USD per mask.
3. See-through mask
Good-looking people may not want their faces covered when wearing masks. Understanding this, a medical equipment manufacturer from America had introduced the Leaf Mask, also known as the ‘invisible’ or see-through mask.
Leaf Mask is made from 100% recycled transparent optical silicone. This does not make the mask cheap, however, and it is currently selling at 49 USD per mask (for HEPA only), and at 89 USD per mask (for HEPA + UV).
The product is FDA-guaranteed with HEPA filtering technology that can eliminate up to 99.97% fine dust at 0,3 micron in diameter (similar in properties with N95 masks), and self-disinfect using UV technology.
4. Self-disinfecting mask
Similar to Leaf Mask, a Chinese firm had started production for a self-disinfecting UV mask called Aeri, with certain differences in design and product price due to its origin in China.
In the original design, Aeri includes a detachable disinfection filter that can clean itself with electricity, which can last within 6 weeks.
The mask also includes a module for further accessories like fans – for easier breathing, or microphone – for noise filtering. There is also a USB portal for heat charging. The product is currently in developmental stages, and will only appear on the market after a year.
Professor Yair Ein-Eli for Israel Technology Academy is also researching an unnamed, novel self-disinfecting mask.
This design will resemble N95 with a USB portal for charging, and a self-disinfection scheme using heat and inner carbon fibers at 70 Celsius degrees from 15 to 30 minutes, just enough to destroy viruses.
Testing has shown that the mask can be used for 20 charges, however, it will take time for it to hit the shelves, as patents for the mask were just submitted in March, 2020. The price is estimated to be around 1 USD higher than other common masks.
5. The mask that makes clean air
At CES 2020, Mr. Mikal Peveto, head of Aō Air’s American branched, had brought to us the most ideal mask in history – Atmōs. In particular, Atmōs utilizes its two side fans to create a volume of high-pressure clean air right in front of the mask, which allows wearers to freely inhale and exhale, unlike the normal wrapped mask.
There are also ventilators placed under the wearer’s ears, along sensors that can measure their breathing.
The mask weighs a whole 256g, much more than a smartphone – a huge disadvantage that may require consideration. At 350 USD, this hi-tech mask is expecting to hit the market this July.
Aō Air is also trying to reduce the mask’s weight and size down to that of the first iPod. In talking about Atmōs, Mr. Peveto said: “It is 50 times better (than your original masks).”
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