Wearing a face mask outdoors has become the “new normal” in Israel and much of the world. But wearing one that covers the nose and mouth presents an obstacle for people with hearing disabilities, who often read lips to communicate with others.
Doctoral student Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev School of Public Health and a researcher for the
Center for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response has joined forces with Maayan Levin, mentor of high school robotics team “Roboactive #2096” from Dimona to solve this dilemma.
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The solution? The “Read My Lips” face mask, a transparent covering in front that does not fog up, developed by this student-team collaboration.
The mask allows the person wearing it to breathe easily without the vapor accumulating through breath, unlike the transparent masks available on the market.
Tannenbaum-Baruchi, whose parents are deaf, has devoted her research to improving the lives of the deaf and hard of hearing community in Israel. She has been investigating people with hearing impairments in emergencies for several years, under the guidance of Prof. Limor Aaronson-Daniel and Paula Feder-Bobbis, whose research has contributed greatly over the years to changing the condition of people with hearing impairments in Israel.
The “Robactive #2096” robotics team from Zinman Darca High School in Dimona developed the mask according to Tannenbaum-Baruchi’s research insights using their 3D printers.
“Over the last three weeks, we have planned, developed and created the mask from home, with the assistance of 3-D printers,” Maayan Levin explains. “The result – the first mask of its kind. It is reusable, washable and sterilizable, and is easy to breathe in. 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.”
The transparent mask was made through “hours of conversation, messages, video clips, and attempts,” Tannenbaum-Baruchi adds.
Currently, the group is looking for production and funding partners to mass-produce the mask, while continuing to refine the design. The masks will be given to people with hearing impairments and medical teams caring for this community. In addition, Israeli science and tech site HaYadan reported (Hebrew) that masks will be passed out to test groups along with an academic survey.
The project was conducted under the auspices of the BGU Coronavirus Task Force.