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Monday, January 17, 2022

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    After watches and rings, here is the connected mask

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    While wearable connected objects, such as watches or rings, have been around for a long time, they have benefited from increased interest from the general public during the pandemic. Indeed, in addition to the gadget effect and the monitoring of physical activity, these products also offer monitoring of the user’s state of health.

    And now, to the panoply of connected devices for this health monitoring, we can also add the connected mask. In a press release published this week, Northwestern University (USA) announces the invention by its researchers of a connected mask intended for nursing staff (but which could also be useful for the general public).

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    Her name ? FaceBit or Fitbit (the brand of connected watches acquired by Google) for the face. It is a device, the size of a coin, which can be attached inside an FFP2 (or N95) type mask using a magnet.

    Its primary function is to ensure there are no leaks, which can expose caregivers, especially those in contact with COVID patients. Before designing this electronic device, Josiah Hester, who led the development, interviewed caregivers to determine their needs. And in this survey, respondents said the most important thing was the quality of the fit of the mask.

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    To detect leaks, FaceBit measures the resistance of the mask. And when this resistance drops, which means there is an air leak, the user is alerted.

    “If you wear a mask for 12 hours or more, your face can sometimes become numb”, Hester said. “You might not even realize your mask is coming off because you can’t feel it or you’re too exhausted to notice. We can approximate the fit testing process by measuring the resistance of the mask. If we see a sudden drop in resistance, this indicates that a leak has formed and we can alert the wearer. »

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    However, wearing this connected object does not replace adjustment tests. A process that can last 20 minutes, to ensure that the mask is worn correctly and that there is no leak.

    Leak detection and health data measurement

    “Although Hester’s FaceBit cannot yet replace this cumbersome process – which has been a longstanding challenge in the medical industry – it can ensure that the mask remains properly fitted between tests. If the mask becomes loose throughout the day or if the user bumps the mask during an activity, for example, FaceBit can alert the wearer”, writes the university.

    In addition, the connected mask does not just detect leaks. The researchers also incorporated features that measure respiratory rate, as well as heart rate. Heartbeat measurement is performed by detecting subtle facial movements generated by blood circulation.

    All this information is relayed to an application for smartphones. And according to the university, this information can also be used to detect stress, and for example advise the wearer to take a break.

    Regarding autonomy, the small electronic device has a battery. But it also uses other sources of energy, such as the user’s breath, heat, the sun, or even movement. In any case, thanks to this combo, the device can work for 11 days without being charged.

    Note also that the team behind this project has decided to make it open source.

    Source From: Presse-Citron

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