Throughout the pandemic we have seen many companies attempt to make “smart’ face masks . Northwestern University engineers may have discovered the most effective of all these masks. Dubbed “FaceBit” – the engineers behind this project describe it as “Fitbit for the face” – this is not a full mask, but rather a sensor that can be magnetically attached to the N95 and surgical masks healthcare workers already wear.
Image by Northwestern University
Health monitoring in your face-mask
FaceBit can be found in the research article “FaceBit Smart Face Masks Platform ” as well as in a news posting on the Northwestern University site. Josiah Hester (PhD, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science) led the development of the device.
FaceBit tracks various health metrics. Hester and his team developed a tiny board that can monitor the heart rate and respiration rates of the wearer via the mask. Hester explained that FaceBit can detect movements that our faces make when our hearts beats. It’s easy to see why FaceBit can also monitor respiration rate.
This data includes heart rate and respiration rates. Users can then view their health data on a companion smartphone app. It’s just like wearing a Fitbit. FaceBit can also track the time that users have worn their masks. This data could be used to give healthcare professionals a better idea of when it is best to take a break. High heart and respiration rates are often linked with high stress levels.
FaceBit can also alert users when the seal on the N95 mask they’re wearing may have been broken. Although it cannot directly check if facial seals have been removed, it can detect bumps strong enough to cause them to be broken and notify the user that they might need to replace their mask. It can also detect if the mask is too loose to ensure proper fit.
FaceBit has seriously long battery life