Whether we like it or not, face masks have become a part of our daily attire since the inception of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This has led various companies and individuals to come up with unique, unusual, and straight-up bizarre face masks over the past couple of years. However, a team of researchers has now developed a smart sensor for face masks that can connect to your smartphone and give you a detailed report about your heart and breathing rate, tell you if your face mask fits your face well or not, and track other health data. Read the article to know more about this smart sensor.
FaceBit Can Turn Your Face Mask into a Fitbit
Dubbed as FaceBit, the tiny smart sensor attaches magnetically to a face mask to track various kinds of health and pressure data to provide a detailed report about a user’s heart rate and breathing rate. It can also use its capabilities to tell a user if their mask fits them perfectly or not, and can monitor the total time a face mask is worn by the user. So yeah, it is like a Fitbit tracker for your face mask, as per researchers from Northwestern University who developed the smart sensor. Hence, the name FaceBit.
The FaceBit smart sensor comes with a companion app that lets you access reports and notifications. Users can attach the sensor inside a face mask using a tiny magnet that holds the sensor in place. However, it is worth mentioning that the sensor can be difficult to attach to a cloth-based mask that usually sticks close to the face of the user. It would be easier to attach it to an N95 mask or a mask that has a bit of breathing room when worn.
Once it is in place, the FaceBit sensor can monitor the heart rate of a user without being in contact with the skin using ballistocardiography techniques. It can also monitor your breathing rate by measuring the temperature changes inside the mask, and can also monitor the fit of the mask and wear time using pressure signals. The device gathers all this data and provides detailed reports via its companion app. It can also send notifications when a user’s face mask is out of place.
Coming to the battery situation, the tiny FaceBit sensor comes with a primary cell battery that can deliver a battery life of 11 days or more, based on usage. However, other than getting power from the integrated battery, FaceBit can also use energy from breathing, motion, and sunlight to power the components.
The lead researcher of the project, Josiah Hester, says that he and his team developed FaceBit to aid healthcare workers who are required to wear facemasks and PPE kits during their long shifts. Furthermore, the smart sensor for masks can reduce the time of measuring mask-fit. It can also show the total wear-time of a mask so that a user can know when its time to switch to a new one.
As for the availability, FaceBit is currently required to go through clinical trials and various other tests before it is released in the market. However, Hester and his team have already released the necessary code and hardware to develop the sensor for the public, which could help other developers to develop a similar sensor for their facemasks.
You can check out the video below to know more about FaceBit. Also, let us know your thoughts about it in the comments below.