Next Gen Mask
On July 13, 2020, XPrize launched a competition to create an improved medical mask. The goal was to promote mask-wearing during the COVID-19 pandemic and move people away from the belief that masks are nothing more than an inconvenience.
I, along with a group of other students at Rolling Robots, thought this would be an interesting and meaningful project to work on. By September 2020, we had finished work on a prototype for our mask. It used various electronics to control the temperature inside the mask, as well as amplify and change the user's voice. To control temperature, two Peltier coolers were placed on either side of the mask. The voice changing and amplification was done using a microphone and speaker. All subsystems were controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. The Arduino received instructions from a mobile app which connected to the mask via Bluetooth. The prototype was 3D printed from a flexible material called TPU, which allowed the mask to conform to the user's face.
After submitting our CAD files and pictures of our prototype, XPrize chose our team to be one of twenty-five selected out of over 900 to move on to the next level of the competition. While our team did not move past the next round of judging, this project proved to be a great learning experience. I not only learned about electronics, the physics of sound waves, the Peltier effect, and other principles related to mask design, but also gained valuable experience in working with a group and coordinating tasks with my fellow students.