zFace masks might have become a de rigueur accessory all thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, but ‘old-school’ masks, effective as they are in keeping us safe, have some issues: Anyone using face recognition unlocking on their phone is out in the cold. Your only option is to turn it off, or pull down your mask each time you’d like to use your phone, which increases your risk. Alternatively, you can try enrolling yourself in FaceID (or whatever your phone’s face recognition is branded as) while wearing a mask, but that isn’t foolproof. Another issue is that masks have a limited lifespan and require replacement after a few hours of use. You can get around this by using washable cloth masks, but they’re nowhere as effective as N95 masks (which anyhow are in short supply for the general public as medical personnel, rightfully, are first in line).
But there now might be a way out of the face mask dilemma thanks to some enterprising tech folks who think they know what a mask for 2020 should look like:
Huami’s working on a prototype
Huami, better known for its Amazfit line of wearables, is working on an N95 mask that should hopefully make it to store shelves by next year. The Amazfit Aeri, currently at the prototype stage, is transparent and reveals enough of the area around your mouth and nose to make face recognition workable. It’s also modular, and users will be able to swap in accessories such as a fan. The icing on the cake is that it’s not a disposable mask, and is fitted with UV-C lights, which will disinfect your mask from the inside once plugged into a USB port.
Get your Leaf mask on Indiegogo
Meanwhile, the Leaf, now up for grabs on Indiegogo, promises filtration exceeding the N95 standard thanks to the use of drop-in HEPA filters. The use of transparent silicone means you’ll be able to unlock your iPhone through FaceID, but don’t worry if that seems too boring as Leaf is also offering versions with colour highlights. There are 3 variants up for grabs, the standard Leaf HEPA, the Leaf UV, which adds a sterilising UV-C light and a carbon filter, and the Leaf Pro, which upgrades your mask with a bunch of ‘smart’ features, including air quality monitoring and a metabolism tracker that measures the CO2 in exhaled air.