As the world continues to live in the "new normal," face masks have become common, and people across the globe are beginning to personalize their masks, either by design or necessity.
Some retailers offer face masks with the logos famous sports team or cartoon characters, but others look for more innovative features that will make life somewhat more comfortable and bring it closer to the pre-COVID normal.
For instance, a Kerala-based photo studio owner was talk of the town last week for printing people's faces on to their masks to make them recognizable.
Then recently, a man has come up with a mask that can convey facial cues with the help of LED lights to address the problem of being denied facial cues to judge what other person is trying to say.
The Invention of the Voice-Activated LED Facemask
According to report from CBC Radio-Canada, California programmer and game designer, Tyler Glaiel has created a sound-activated LED face mask that lights up in the shape of a mouth that moves as the wearer speaks and can also simulate a smile.
He said that the light-up mask he invented is "very impractical and not very comfortable," but it looks cool. It is not something that people would want to wear every day, but sometimes he likes going into the store and stuff and leave.
Like many inventions before, his idea of the LED mask came to him over the last few months because of boredom. Out of curiosity if anything like it existed already, he did a research and came across masks that with scrolling text, permanent smiles etched onto them, masks that open and close for eating and drinking, and masks with clear windows for people who are deaf.
"I was wondering if it existed, to have a face mask that just lit up with mouth shapes and so I looked around online to see if there was anything I could feasibly buy to do this and there really wasn't anything there," Glaiel told BBC.
But he found nothing that could actively portray emotions. So he decided to design one of his own, that uses a sound-activated LED board with low sensitivity settings, so it recognizes the wearer's voice while filtering out background noise.
pic.twitter.com/Gyh9aRAr0q — Tyler Glaiel (@TylerGlaiel) May 25, 2020
Mechanics of the voice-activated LED facemask.
Inside the mask is an 8x8 LED matrix that picks up the voice and imitates the mouth movement, like a circular mouth that will open and close. The louder the wearer speaks, the wider the LED mouth opens.
It also allows for the wearer to show a smile by making a popping sound or sometimes clicking the tongue works too.
"You could be making any face you want underneath the mask. You could be sticking out your tongue. But if you make that popping noise at all, people will think you're smiling," Glaiel said
The face mask is entirely self-contained with an Arduino Nano, 9V power supply, and an electret microphone inserted in the translucent black cloth of the face mask.
Since starting his creation online, people have been reaching out to Claiel to ask where they can buy one. But he said that he has only one mask and is not currently manufacturing more.
For the meantime, he posted detailed instructions online for building a light-up mask at home, including the necessary materials.