‘Read my lips’ coronavirus facemasks developed for hearing impaired
BGU is working with high school students to design, develop and 3-D print the masks
By ILANIT CHERNICK
Masks are in, and with the coronavirus pandemic continuing to rage across the world, they won’t be going out of fashion any time soon.
The problem, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) pointed out, is that wearing a mask hinders communication for those with hearing disabilities who often read lips to communicate with hearing people.
Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi, a BGU Public Health doctoral student has joined forces with Maayan Levin who mentors a high school robotics team “Roboactive #2096” from Dimona and together they are solving this problem.
The team has developed a specialized see-through facemask, which they have dubbed “Read My Lips.”
They have also designed it in a way so that the transparent front does not fog up.
“Over the last three weeks, we have planned, developed and created the mask from home, with the assistance of 3-D printers,” Levin explained. “The result – the first mask of its kind.”
Levin made it clear that the facemask is reusable, washable and sterilizable and is easy to breathe with.
“It is transparent in front to enable lip reading and is designed not to fog up from people’s breath. What’s more, it is comfortable and affordable,” she added.
Discussing what inspired the innovative mask, Tannenbaum-Baruchi said that both her parents are deaf and she has devoted her research to improving the lives of the deaf and hard of hearing community in Israel. Her thesis advisors are Prof. Limor Aharonson-Daniel and Dr. Paula Feder-Bubis of the Faculty of Health Sciences.
The “Roboactive #2096” robotics team from Zinman Darca High School in Dimona developed the mask using their 3-D printers under the supervision of Tannenbaum-Baruchi and her research insights.
According to Tannenbaum-Baruchi, it took “hours of conversations, messages, video clips, and attempts have resulted in this transparent mask.”
The university added that the team is currently looking for production and funding partners to mass-produce the mask, whilst they continue to refine the design.
The study was conducted under the auspices of the BGU Coronavirus Task Force, which was initiated by BGU President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz to harness the ingenuity of the faculty and the resources of the University to tackle the myriad challenges the current pandemic poses.