The idea of a transparent respirator mask was probably born out of necessity, as is so often the case: when all masks are worn, deaf people cannot communicate with others, because they must be able to recognize the mouth movements and facial expressions of others.
Who first came up with the idea to build masks with a transparent centerpiece, cannot be said. The model shown above is by the French designer Anissa Mekrabech and was designed under the motto “Your lips are my ears” especially for hearing impaired people.
But these masks are mostly conventional models in which a plastic layer has been integrated. This standard material is not porous enough, hinders breathing, makes the mask moist and finally fog sly the transparent part.
A Swiss company has been developing a transparent surgical mask for two years
“HelloMask” is a project of the Swiss start-up HMCARE, which wants to solve these problems. After two years of research, the Swiss developed a membrane from a polymer specially developed for this application, the membrane of which is as fine as that of a three-layer medical mouthguard.
The mask should meet all requirements normally made on medical masks. At the same time, however, it will be made of a fully transparent material, with the aim of improving the relationship between medical staff and patients.
Before co-founded the company, Klaus Schönenberger took care of the provision of technologies and humanitarian measures for developing countries. He reports to medica.de from a 2015 experience. In West Africa, he saw nurses working with Ebola patients; “Protected from head to toe, they carried a photo of themselves on their chests to give their relationship with their patients a human touch.”
However, hmcare’s mask, like any medical mouthguard, is a disposable product for hygienic reasons, although it consists of 99 percent biodegradable products. That is why it is likely to find its customers primarily in the medical field.
A start-up develops a transparent, reusable N99 standard mask
The start-up Leaf, on the other hand, is more aimed at private individuals with its products, and is currently aggressively promoting its products on the Internet. The transparent masks should be made in different models, be reusable and equipped with all kinds of functions.
According to Leaf, wearers of the mask should be able to unlock their phone or go through passport control and customs. According to the N99 standard, the mask is designed to filter 99 percent of all particles up to a size of 0.3 microns from the air. An integrated self-disinfection function is designed to kill bacteria and viruses at the touch of a button with UV-C light.
Whether the mask can keep all these promises, however, is not yet clear, as it is not yet available. A crowdfunding campaign has just been completed. The funding target of 27,000 euros has been exceeded by far: donations currently amount to around 1.254 million. However, the mask in the simplest version also costs a proud 49 US dollars (about 44 euros).