All through the pandemic, we’ve seen a number of corporations strive their hand at “good” face masks. Probably the most helpful of the bunch might have simply been revealed not by an organization, however by engineers at Northwestern College. Dubbed “FaceBit” – the engineers behind this challenge describe it as “Fitbit for the face” – this isn’t a full masks, however fairly a sensor that may be magnetically connected to the N95 and surgical masks healthcare employees already put on.
Picture: Northwestern College
Well being monitoring in your face masks
FaceBit is described in each the analysis article “FaceBit: Sensible Face Masks Platform” and in a information publish on the Northwestern College web site. Josiah Hester, PhD of the McCormick College of Engineering and Utilized Science, led the gadget’s improvement.
Because the title suggests, FaceBit is all about monitoring varied well being metrics. The sensors within the tiny board Hester and his staff created can monitor the guts fee and the respiration fee of the wearer by way of the masks it’s connected to. In that Northwestern College information publish, Hester explains that FaceBit is delicate sufficient to detect the in any other case imperceptible actions our faces make every time our hearts beat. With that in thoughts, it’s no marvel that FaceBit can even monitor one thing extra evident like respiration fee.
That coronary heart and respiration fee knowledge is then uploaded to a companion smartphone app, permitting customers to see their well being knowledge, similar to in the event that they have been carrying a Fitbit. FaceBit additionally tracks the entire time customers have worn their masks, and may doubtlessly even give healthcare employees a window into when they need to take a break, as elevated respiration and coronary heart charges are sometimes related to elevated stress ranges.
FaceBit can even alert customers when the seal on the N95 masks they’re carrying might have been damaged. Whereas it could possibly’t instantly confirm if facial seals are nonetheless in place, it could possibly detect bumps that might be sturdy sufficient to interrupt them and alert the consumer that they might want to repair their masks. It could actually additionally inform when the masks turns into too unfastened to make sure a correct match.
FaceBit has significantly lengthy battery life
Maybe essentially the most spectacular half about FaceBit is its lengthy battery life. Whereas FaceBit comes outfitted with an onboard battery, the small dimension of the board limits simply how large that battery might be. FaceBit can harvest small quantities of energy from daylight and even the consumer’s breath and movement, giving it a possible battery lifetime of 11 days.
That’s spectacular and likewise essential. Within the video above, Hester explains he didn’t need to develop a masks that needed to be recharged each few hours. Eleven days of battery life exceeds that of most of the smartwatches we see at this time, however then once more, the low-power parts on the board itself (together with the truth that it doesn’t have a show) assist make sure that customers can squeeze as a lot energy as attainable out of that tiny battery.
Northwestern College says sooner or later, we may see gadgets like FaceBit which might be powered completely by “harvested thermal and kinetic power.” Whereas Hester says that FaceBit nonetheless must undergo medical trials, it seems like he and his staff have created a succesful gadget right here. They’ve additionally launched it as an open-source challenge so anybody can construct on the work the staff has already carried out.