All through the pandemic, we’ve seen a number of firms attempt their hand at “good” face masks. Essentially the most helpful of the bunch could have simply been revealed not by an organization, however by engineers at Northwestern College. Dubbed “FaceBit” – the engineers behind this venture describe it as “Fitbit for the face” – this isn’t a full masks, however slightly a sensor that may be magnetically hooked up to the N95 and surgical masks healthcare staff already put on.
Picture: Northwestern College
Well being monitoring in your face masks
FaceBit is described in each the analysis article “FaceBit: Good Face Masks Platform” and in a information put up on the Northwestern College web site. Josiah Hester, PhD of the McCormick College of Engineering and Utilized Science, led the machine’s improvement.
Because the title suggests, FaceBit is all about monitoring varied well being metrics. The sensors within the tiny board Hester and his staff created can observe the center fee and the respiration fee of the wearer by way of the masks it’s hooked up to. In that Northwestern College information put up, Hester explains that FaceBit is delicate sufficient to detect the in any other case imperceptible actions our faces make each time our hearts beat. With that in thoughts, it’s no surprise that FaceBit also can observe one thing extra evident like respiration fee.
That coronary heart and respiration fee information is then uploaded to a companion smartphone app, permitting customers to see their well being information, identical to in the event that they had been carrying a Fitbit. FaceBit additionally tracks the overall time customers have worn their masks, and might doubtlessly even give healthcare staff a window into when they need to take a break, as elevated respiration and coronary heart charges are sometimes related to elevated stress ranges.
FaceBit also can alert customers when the seal on the N95 masks they’re carrying could have been damaged. Whereas it will possibly’t instantly confirm if facial seals are nonetheless in place, it will possibly detect bumps that may be robust sufficient to interrupt them and alert the person that they might want to repair their masks. It may well additionally inform when the masks turns into too unfastened to make sure a correct match.
FaceBit has severely lengthy battery life
Maybe essentially the most spectacular half about FaceBit is its lengthy battery life. Whereas FaceBit comes outfitted with an onboard battery, the small dimension of the board limits simply how large that battery could be. FaceBit can harvest small quantities of energy from daylight and even the person’s breath and movement, giving it a possible battery lifetime of 11 days.
That’s spectacular and likewise mandatory. Within the video above, Hester explains he didn’t wish to develop a masks that needed to be recharged each few hours. Eleven days of battery life exceeds that of lots of the smartwatches we see right now, however then once more, the low-power elements on the board itself (together with the truth that it doesn’t have a show) assist be sure that customers can squeeze as a lot energy as potential out of that tiny battery.
Northwestern College says sooner or later, we might see gadgets like FaceBit which might be powered totally by “harvested thermal and kinetic vitality.” Whereas Hester says that FaceBit nonetheless must undergo medical trials, it feels like he and his staff have created a succesful machine right here. They’ve additionally launched it as an open-source venture so anybody can construct on the work the staff has already completed.