Researchers at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have created a ground breaking facemask that prevents the spread of various respiratory viruses, including COVID.
Recent scientific research indicates that standard facemasks have negative psychological and physiological impacts, notwithstanding their effectiveness in preventing the spread of disease. In addition, they diminish facial recognition, impair verbal communication, and can even result in skin issues and headaches. In a variety of occupations, wearing masks during work leads to a decrease in attention and lack of concentration. Therefore, as a consequence, a large number of individuals wear their masks in a way that diminishes their protection – on or below their mouths.
Conventional facemasks have also contributed to a major increase in plastic waste, resulting in millions of tonnes of waste every year.
Technion team lead by Professors Moshe Shoham and David Greenblatt decided to approach facial mask’s conundrum by addressing all of the listed above issues. They essentially reinvented it by creating an invisible “air-screen” in front of the wearer’s face. The air-screen is contained within a filter-covered, lightweight unit attached on the visor of a cap. The miniature battery and fan together weigh close to 200 grams.
The revolutionary invention shields the nose, eyes, and mouth without impairing facial identity or verbal communication. The air-screen can either function as a stand-alone device that is worn with the user’s own cap, or it can be placed into a cap that is provided by the manufacturer. In addition, the air screen does not pollute the environment and is reusable.
Recently published research, based on experiments conducted in Prof. Greenblatt’s laboratory, demonstrated the air-screen’s efficacy by blocking droplets produced during verbal communication, as well as from coughing and sneezing. Moreover, it also eliminates stagnant airborne particles from in front of the face through a process known as “entrainment.” This combined action of blocking and entrainment may be observed in the video, where laser illumination is utilised to make the airflow evident. According to a peer-reviewed study, the device blocks 62% of incoming and 99% of outgoing droplets.
Several research teams have attempted produce air-based alternatives to masks, but none have yet become mainstream products. Dyson, best known for its efficient vacuum cleaners, is planning to offer headphones with an air-filtering component. However, it rests on the face, and it costs $949, whereas inventors of the Israeli invisible mask are looking for a cheap price point, making it available to customers at a more affordable cost.