Data & Technology

The mask 2.0. About how evolutionary innovations are created

The mask became an inseparable object of everyday life overnight. Just like our phone and keys, nowadays we don’t move without it. And although the material or surgical mask already limit the spread of coronavirus, technological startups are now dealing with improving them. It’s worth to know some promising product innovations, which is what everyone is talking about in 2020:

The transparent mask
When wearing a mask became mandatory, deaf and hearing impaired people encountered a problem: the inability to lip-read. Soon, a solution was found by 3 girls who created a transparent mask. The so-called inclusion mask has a built-in transparent PET insert that exposes the mouth. A similar mask, also invented in France, called Civility is already in pre-sale. The mask protects and at the same time allows the entire spectrum of communication possibilities, like seeing “emotions and smiles” on the faces of our interlocutors to be used.

The self-cleaning mask
In order to effectively protect against the virus, cotton masks should be washed at a temperature of no less than 60 degrees. However, there is a more advanced way to kill viruses. Yanko Design company has created a mask that cleans itself, thanks to the system of UV-C lamps, which eliminate pathogens on the mask and sterilize its surface. The invention has already been approved in the US, but can only be pre-ordered. One of Xiomi’s companies is also working on a similar solution. Another company, LIGC Applications, has in turn developed a self-cleaning mask using a graphene filtration system, the Guardian G-Volt mask is soon to be marketed.

The eco-mask
The mask, though necessary in times of pandemic, is another thing that will become garbage at some point. Out of concern for the planet, the Sum Studio company, created a fully biodegradable mask, made of sugar cane residues. Such a mask protects us and the earth.

A tailor-made mask
Does it stick out too much or is it too tight? The problem of a mis-sized mask has been solved by LuxMea Studio, which is involved in creating products that combine design, AI, big data and 3D printing on a daily basis. The company’s employees have added a Nuo 3D mask to their offer, which is created to a specific size, so the mask fits perfectly on the face. The main part of the mask is produced with a 3D printer and has a replaceable filter.

The LED mask
Well, this mask doesn’t solve “big” problems, but it is most impressive. For USD 95 we can buy a mask with built-in LED lights. We can put, for example, a simple “6-foot” slogan to inform about the need to keep distance. A game developer also designed a mask that lights up the moment we start talking.

The SmartMask that connects to the phone
Created by the Japanese startup Donut Robotics, the plastic-motor mask connects to the application on the phone through a built-in microphone and is able to translate what we say into 8 languages: Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, English, Spanish and French. The mask does not protect against the virus by itself, it is designed to be worn on a standard mask.

The rapid development of new versions of masks is an example of an evolutionary innovation, i.e. one that adapts an existing and already known product to the requirements of new users. The pandemic and the danger connected with it has made masks from a product designed for narrow and homogeneous groups (they were actually used only by medical personnel or people working in a highly dusty environment) become something commonplace. Such situations are an ideal motivator for innovators to act, i.e. to look for solutions that meet the needs of new user groups (e.g. deaf people) and take new conditions of use into account (wearing masks for a long time and everywhere). This is what evolutionary innovation is all about – you can change the product/service we have known for years to give value to a new audience.

What matters now is one thing, whether it is self-cleaning, glowing or made from simple material, let’s wear it!