$500K competition urges you to build a better mask

Coronavirus

(WOOD) — The federal government has launched a $500,000 Mask Innovation Challenge, urging designers and engineers to come up with better masks.

The competition challenges people to create masks that are more effective in filtering out particles in the air, fit better and are more comfortable.

On the competition’s website, it lists out some of the major reasons people resist mask wearing that this competition hopes to solve:

  • Currently available retail masks are often untested, with unknown protective capability
  • Physical discomfort with prolonged use, particularly in hot and humid environments
  • Perceived or actual breathing difficulties
  • Irritant contact dermatitis with extended wear
  • Inability to effectively communicate with others using facial expressions
  • Speech intelligibility and difficulty with glasses wearing
  • Lack of understanding of the features of a mask

The application period is open and runs through April 21. Up to 10 winners will be chosen in the first phase of the competition and each given $10,000. They will move into the second phase, at the end of which five winners will be chosen to split $400,000.

The challenge is being run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s DRIVe program for health technology improvements and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

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