Ford is leveraging its engineering skills to solve a delicate coronavirus problem: developing a medical grade face mask that reveals the facial expression of the wearer as well as the expression of the wearerRead lips. The automaker that started making personal protective equipment early on has developed a face mask with clear fields that also filters out most of the particles in the air.
“In those early days everyone learned what it was like to live in a masked environment. We quickly found that while wearing a mask all day is difficult, it is even more of a challenge for people with hearing impairments.” Jim Baumbick, the director of PSA production for Ford, told CBS MoneyWatch. “It inspired us to think about how we can help serve these people effectively [with a mask] They take away from them another meaning that they rely on for communication and connection. “
Baumbick also sees potential potential for Ford’s clear breathing apparatus to improve the interaction between doctors and patients, as well as teachers and students.
The mask is still under development and its filtration capability has not yet been approved by the National Institute for Safety and Health at Work (NIOSH). NIOSH approved N95 respirators form a tight seal over the face of the user and filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. Any mask that claims to be an N95 but does not have the NIOSH seal of approval isaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WhileAgainst the coronavirus, they are still in short supply and are only recommended by health care workers. Healthcare and industrial products maker 3M recently admitted that despite quadrupling production in the US, it is still struggling to meet demand from its frontline workers. 95 million respiratory protective devices are currently being manufactured every month.
Ford expects the masks to be available in the spring pending NIOSH certification. The company’s current focus is on testing the respirators, initially with first aiders, medical professionals and teachers. It is not yet clear how Ford will distribute the masks and whether they will be more widespread.
“We are aiming for N95 certification and are working with NIOSH to ensure we go through the full testing regime before we bring this to market,” said Baumbick.
The clear plastic plates are coated with an anti-fog treatment and, according to Ford, can be replaced. The panels are designed to provide a full view of the wearer’s face, while the side panels of the masks are made from a highly efficient filter material, Baumbick said.
CB News’ Michael Roppolo contributed to the coverage