‘Our normal selves in abnormal times’: Company debuts clear ‘smart’ mask

Wearing a face mask is one of the most effective ways to keep ourselves and the people around us healthy amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it has limited the way we interact in public. It’s not as easy anymore to recognize one another or to offer a smile.

One company is looking to give back people’s expressive identities without compromising health with a clear “smart” mask.

Created by Redcliffe Healthcare in Michigan, the LEAF is made with recyclable, biocompatible engineering materials that are designed for a much longer use. It uses HEPA filters that have a much higher surface area than cloth filters, which allows for better air flow.

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Unlike conventional masks that have separate intake valves sewn into them, the LEAF has fully integrated transparent valves in a choice of colors to match with the intake chin cover color,” reads the official website.

“The self-sterilization process not only makes the LEAF a much safer mask than conventional masks, but also ensures that the filters last up to 1 month as compared to the traditional mask being used once and discarded.”

There are three models of the mask: LEAF HEPA, LEAF UV, and LEAF Pro. The LEAF UV and LEAF Pro come with a clinically proven UV-C light that destroys pathogens at the micro level, which allows the HEPA filter to be re-used for up to a month.

Additionally, the masks all come with permanent anti-fog, self-cleaning inner coatings and a 99.99% filtration of a wide variety of microbes. They also have carbon filtration that reduces odors and volatile organic compounds in the air.

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“Conventional masks not only block pathogens and pollutants; they also block our display of emotions, feelings and personal identity,” wrote the company. “They block expressions of who we are and the use of our ‘superpower’ of reading facial expressions.”

“We designed LEAF to be transparent so we could be our normal selves in abnormal times.”

With four different designs and a variety of color choices, the LEAF mask is made for people ages 3 and up. Interested buyers can purchase the transparent masks on Indiegogo starting at $49.

The leading associations for doctors, nurses and the health care industry at large together issued an open letter on Monday urging Americans to wear a mask and practice social distancing amid an uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases across the country.

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“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have urged the American people to protect themselves, their neighbors and their loved ones amidst the worst global health crisis in generations,” the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association wrote in the letter dated July 6.

The organizations pointed to testimony last week by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, who told Congress that the U.S. could see up to 100,000 new coronavirus cases daily if the country does not take more precautions.

“This is why as physicians, nurses, hospital and health system leaders, researchers and public health experts, we are urging the American public to take the simple steps we know will help stop the spread of the virus: wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing, and washing hands. We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health—by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions,” the letter states.