Anyone who has to go to hospital for treatment will already not be in the best of spirits. The situation is even more unsettling for small children or the elderly, who, overwhelmed with pain and medical procedures, just need to get well. After all, how is someone in a mask supposed to read a comforting story to a small child? And how is an enfeebled patient supposed to grasp what the masked individual plans on doing with the needle in his hand? It would be easier to deal with patients if the lips and facial expressions were visible through the mask. With this in mind, researchers from Empa in St. Gallen and EPFL’s EssentialTech program are currently developing the Hello Mask with an integrated transparent filter film.
“A conventional face mask is composed of several layers of relatively thick fibers,” says Empa researcher Giuseppino Fortunato. And although the individual fibers of the white or green masks might well be see-through, their diameter and processing cause the incident light to scatter to such an extent that the mask turns opaque. The woven fibers of the Hello Mask, on the other hand, should leave a transparent surface that offers an unobstructed view of the lips, also enabling the wearer to communicate non-verbally with the patient via facial expressions.