By Franklin Aguilar
Due to rising pollution in many areas, and to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for facemasks has increased to unprecedented levels. The technology for medical and N95-rated facemasks is tried and true, and also effective. And sometimes old technologies evolve and improve with time. As such, a new type of facemask may be about to hit the market. We are talking about the “smart” facemask, under development by Xiaomi.
Xiaomi has been selling fancy facemasks in China for some time, known as the “Mi AirPOP PM 2.5”. (this mask can filter PM 2.5 particles from the air in everyday environments) But according to a patent filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), an upgraded, more-advanced facemask will include sensors, a processor, memory and wireless transmitters. The smart facemask (or smartmask) will be able to track how much air the wearer breathes over a period of time, and onboard sensors will calculate quantities of absorbed particulate and pollution. The device can even measure the wearer’s lung capacity and monitor trends over time.
All data from the mask can be wirelessly saved to a smartphone or tablet, and the mask can also send the data to a central server for analysis. In the case that the mask detects high levels of pollution or irregularities in breathing, the smartmask could send an alert to your phone!
At this time, the device is merely a patent and a concept, and not available for sale. And so far, there is no indication that the smartmask will be able to detect viruses or bacteria. However, in light of current demand, we can expect Xiaomi (and other companies) to improve upon this design and incorporate the latest sensors as they become available.
What’s your take? People have taken to wearing earbuds and smart watches… Maybe this is the next step. Would you wear a smart facemask?