During the time of coronavirus, we’ve seen surgical masks, homemade masks, face shields, and even masks with window panes, but what’s next? Introducing the first smart mask registered by the FDA, made by the company Leaf.
What is a Leaf Mask?
The first thing you might notice about the mask is the unique look: Unlike a traditional surgical mask that goes across your entire face, Leaf masks essentially cover an outline around your nose and down to your chin with the option of either head or ear straps. Instead of elastic and cloth, the mask utilizes clear silicon for durability and transparency, allowing you to read the lips of the wearer and understand their facial movements.
They come in two sizes (small and standard) and have an aluminum wire that allows for a close fit on nearly any face. The coating contains nanotechnology touted to be anti-microbial and anti-fog, as well as self-cleaning and water resistant. The exhaust filters around the chin make breathing easier, and the pleats in the filters increase the filtered surface area five times without adding any bulk.
Leaf Mask options
There are 3 different options for the Leaf smart masks: Hepa, UV, and Pro. The Hepa is the cheapest version, starting at $49, and features a HEPA filter. This High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter captures particles as small as 0.3-micron (0.000012-inch) moving through the mask with 99.997% filtration, preventing the wearer from breathing in or exhaling any COVID-19 airborne particles. This filter, as well as an N99+ filter comes standard in all three models.
The Leaf UV and Leaf Pro add on a replaceable Carbon filter which is said to act as another barrier to prevent air particles from sticking to the mask. These higher-cost models ($89 and $199 respectively) also include multiple replaceable N95 exhaust filters and a UV-C sterilization process that uses LED to kill pathogens within the filters.
The Leaf Pro takes it to the next level by connecting to an Android smartphone to allow the wearer to control ventilation speed and monitor metabolism and CO2 levels. It also contains dust sensors and comes in a variety of colors.
Where can you buy one?
This smart mask was crowd funded on Indiegogo, meaning before production began, it needed money to get off the ground. Redcliffe Healthcare (also cited under the name Redcliffe Medical) posted their idea for the mask online, asking for support and funding. By the time their campaign wrapped up, over 26,000 people backed the product and raised nearly 4.5 million dollars to allow production to begin. Redcliffe Healthcare promised masks to the original funders and began shipping at the end of July. If you were not one of the early backers, you’ll have to join the growing waiting list which hopes for new inventory in September. Since these masks are not yet FDA approved and aren’t readily available, we will have to wait and see the reviews!