With COVID-19 shaking the world apart, wearing a face mask anywhere and everywhere, and at all times has become a way of life. Leaving our homes without a mask or shield puts not only our lives but the lives of those around us at risk as well, not to mention it is now considered a social taboo. So, the design industry has been creating innovative, functional, and not to mention super trendy face mask designs, and we cannot wait to get our hands (or faces) on them!

Designed in France, the Civility mask sports a design that embraces safety without compromising on aesthetics. Its defining feature is its transparent shield on the front, made from a lightweight, resistant glass that provides a crystal-clear view of your face. Air filters on each side help deliver 98% pure air directly to your mouth and nose, while also allowing exhaled air to pass through so that your mask doesn’t fog up. An innovative TPE ring around the mask ensures an air-tight seal that works universally across multiple face-shapes and even on people with beards.

Designer Fulden Dehneli calls the mask Gādo (ガード) and the sanitizer Ken (剣) because she views these as complementary products that will become necessities in a post-pandemic world. Gādo means ‘guard’ and Ken means ‘sword’ in Japanese which is such a poetic way to describe tools – they guard us and kill the germs! Gādo and Ken were specifically designed for seamless integration into our lives. Gādo combines the benefits of a mask and a face shield with a simple sliding mechanism- a folded textile structure hidden under the shield which enlarges when the shield is slid up. This way you don’t have to constantly wear the traditionally obtrusive face shield but can ‘guard up’ if you’re among people and can’t maintain distance.

The UV Mask comes with a dual filtration system that delivers the cleanest air quality of any existing face-mask. A preliminary replaceable N95 filter blocks 95% of particles like dust, dirt, debris, up to 0.3 microns. Microorganisms smaller than 0.3 microns then enter the UV-C Sterile Vortex, a helix-shaped filter that blasts microorganisms with UV-C light to destroy 99.9% of the remaining 5% on a DNA level, to give you air that isn’t just clean, it’s medical-grade, sterile-clean, bringing total filtration efficiency to 99.99%.

New York-based designer Joe Doucet envisions the face shield creatively and takes it from being a symbol of our toughest days to a seamless part of our everyday fashion. Due to the longterm effects of COVID-19 on our lives, the way we dress and interact will evolve. Till a vaccine is available globally, we will be governed by the laws of social distancing, and wearing PPE is crucial for our safety and for those around us. Studies show that visors & face shields are more effective than surgical masks but happen to be uncomfortable and obtrusive-looking. The ability to adapt and evolve are also the pillars of good design, so Doucet has designed a face shield that people will actually want to wear instead of feeling awkward or conscious about it. The conceptual PPE features a curved form that is see-through and integrates the darker lens of sunglasses. The arms of the visor-sunglass are more comfortable than traditional masks.

Have you touched your face yet? I almost did… twice, and while that habit is a difficult one to break, the Blocc makes it easier to do so while being able to go about your day. Think of the Blocc as a helmet visor sans the helmet. Made from scratch-resistant fog-resistant clear polycarbonate, the Blocc is as easy (and as comfortable) as wearing a pair of specs. Two temple-stems suspend the Blocc by your ears while a nose-bridge allows the visor to rest comfortably against your nose and roughly an inch away from your face. The Blocc’s material choice makes it practically perfect for a face shield. Made from the same polymer as actual helmet visors (even the ones found in riot gear use PolyCarbonate), the Blocc is perfectly clear, allowing you to see through it with ease, while its resilient physical property prevents it from getting any scratches or scuffs by accident.

The BioVYZR is cutting-edge PPE made accessible to common folk like us. The unit comes with an anti-fog visor that extends from your face all the way down, to give you unmatched visibility on the front that doesn’t mist up with your breath. A neoprene vest lets you strap the visor in place, creating a literal safe-space around you, while a fan and air-filter at the back route fresh air to the inside of the space, kind of like a space-suit. The air-filter built into the BioVYZR gives you the purification of an N95 mask, without the suffocating feeling of a cloth strapped to your mouth, and creates positive air pressure within the visor, enabling easy breathing and pushing old air out to let fresh air in.

NASA has designed Pulse, a DIY wearable necklace that warns you when you are about to touch your face. NASA isn’t selling these directly, but Jet Propulsion Laboratory has made the 3D-printed concept available as an open-source project so anyone can make this smart wearable for their own health and safety. It works on a simple mechanism – the necklace has a sensor that detects when the user lifts their hands towards their face and it will vibrate to warn them using power from a common button battery. This vibration is a reminder for the user to not touch their face and soon establishes the muscle memory required to turn this into a new behavioral pattern.

Debuted at CES2020, the Atmōs face-mask from Aō Air is a wearable that provides 50x better air quality than even the best pollution masks. Rather than just being a HEPA filter that sits loosely in front of your nose and mouth, the Atmōs is a miniature air purifier, with multiple stages of air filtration powered by fans within the device that adapt to your breathing to provide as many as 240 liters of clean air per minute. In short, the faster you breathe, the faster the Atmōs delivers clean air to you. The D’fend air purifying system even targets nanoparticles, trapping dust, pollen, or even very fine ash, giving you air that’s 50 times purer than what you’d get with a cloth mask.

The Blanc provides a protective, full-face cover, giving you a tinted visor to look through, and specifically designed air-channels to breathe through. Two high-efficiency SGS-tested HEPA filters make sure the air you breathe is 99.97% pure, trapping any microparticles, microorganisms, and VOCs in the process. The mask itself offers an air-tight seal, while carefully calibrated pathways ensure the air you breathe always passes through a filter, giving you pure air with each breath. Air that you exhale passes out through outlets located at the base of the mask, ensuring your visor never gets fogged up.

Meet the NE-1, an experimental face-helmet that looks like something a bee-keeper would wear but is in-fact protective headgear that’s both safe and comfortable to wear in the pandemic. Developed by Texas-based ValhallaMED, the NE-1 helmet combines the face-shield and mask into a singular device you wear on your head. Fitted with a powered air system and a patent-pending filtration mechanism, the NE-1 routes air-flow to make sure the air you breathe is 95% pure, but without needing an air-tight seal like most conventional masks. Not only does the mask filter the air you inhale AND exhale, but it also comes fitted with coolers that keep you breezy and comfortable outdoors. The cool air, aside from giving you overall comfort, also helps the NE-1’s wide visor from misting or fogging up.

Rolon, an architect, designer, and CEO of his own 3D printing company, realized what a big problem it was breathing polluted air in China, where he had set up his studio. The best mask needed to be comfortable, and effectively circulate purified air so that you could breathe with ease, and your glasses wouldn’t get fogged up. The solution required scaling down an air purifier to something that was small enough to fit on your face. Calling it the ATMOBLUE, Leandro and his team developed an entirely new category of wearables that could actively purify the air of 99.9% of particles, pioneering a technology that made them sort of the Tesla of face-masks, as opposed to the N95 which only filtered 95% of the air. The mask featured “positive air pressure” which helped keep out germs and contaminants by making the air pressure inside the mask greater than the air pressure outside. Built-in fans pushed purified air right into the insides of the mask, allowing you to breathe normally, and one-way outlets got rid of the humid air, so your mouth never felt wet and sweaty. ATMOBLUE was designed as an upgrade to the N95, which almost every Asian wore outdoors. Its fan-operated purification system allowed people to breathe clean air easily (a feature that really helped people with inherent respiratory issues), and a comfortable silicone rim around the mask created a proper airtight seal, so air didn’t leak out – which ensured that you were breathing pure air at all times, and that if you wore glasses, they never fogged up.

Inspired by the AIRPOP masks, designer Oliver Perretta created a multifunctional mask. With usability being the keystone of any design, the mask not only filters the air but also acts as an air quality monitor! The quality monitor accurately transmits data to your smartphone, helping you be aware and keep yourself safe.

Ex Apple designer

The idea for a DIY hack came to Paseman around the time when the country was facing a severe shortage of N95 masks, forcing doctors and nurses to wear readily available loosely-fitted surgical masks. Paseman first tried scouting her area for N95 masks, hoping to donate them to medical facilities, and when she couldn’t find any N95 masks available in her vicinity, she decided to create a life-saving lifehack to make standard surgical masks more functional by ensuring a tighter seal/fit. The solution? A simple DIY seal that closes all air gaps around your nose and mouth so there’s no air leakage anywhere caused by a loosely fitted mask. Paseman and Duong’s first iteration of the Fix The Mask solution involved the MacGyverian use of a handful of rubber bands that could be strung together to create a tight brace to secure the mask’s fit. A few iterations later, the two developed a more robust solution by cutting into rubber sheets to create a better, more effective harness. The harness design is available on the Fix The Mask website as a free resource, to allow health professionals and regular citizens to get the most out of their face-gear while remaining safe from the virus.

Speaking of multi-functional designs, we are totally geeking out over this design by Zack Massos and Eitan Adika that merges a reusable face mask with headphones! How do you ask? The answer is bone conduction tech! Dystopian as it may sound, but in a future where wearing masks is the norm, this face mask-headphones hybrid could help you commute and stay connected all while staying safe!

Have we considered how this normalization in the usage of masks will affect the kids? Coming from the complete freedom and joy they are accustomed to being in, this new world with masks and instructions to not touch anything is a scary change. Oliver Perretta wants to make this process more comfortable for the kids by creating this child-friendly mask that lets the kid dress up as their favorite animals and have fun while staying safe!

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