Self-Shutting Face Mask Is Hacker’s Delight

Most of us currently have to deal with wearing face masks in our daily life. An experience that is not entirely pleasurable as it is more difficult to breathe under the mask and can become hot after a while. In addition, you have to take off the mask whenever you want to eat or drink. [DesignMaker] has attempted to solve these problems by creating a mask with an opening that shuts automatically when other people are nearby.

While homemade masks are usually made from fabric [DesignMaker]’s version is much more to a hacker’s taste and includes 3D-printed parts, an Arduino Nano, PIR sensors, an SG90 servo, and some Neopixels. [DesignMaker]’s background in industrial design certainly helped him when modeling the mask as it looks just plain awesome.

His goal was to use PIR sensors to detect when a person is moving nearby. The servo then shuts an opening located at the mouth part of the mask. However, he soon found out that the mask often shuts when nobody is around. The reason is that the sensor can be triggered by ambient IR radiation when it is moving by itself. In the end [DesignMaker] decided that having the mask shut when you are moving is not a bug, it’s a feature.

Of course, the mask is just a prop and should not be used as protective equipment. As shown in the video below, also the false triggering of the PIR sensors can be annoying at times. But [DesignMaker] is already thinking of improvements like having the mask properly sealed with fabric or replacing the PIR sensors by a camera with face detection.

If you want to learn how to sew a proper fabric face mask have a look here. It’s a lot less ridiculous, but a lot more effective. You can’t have everything.

Video after the break.

28 thoughts on “Self-Shutting Face Mask Is Hacker’s Delight

  1. I have a t-shirt that is both more effective and practical at preventing Covid infection.

    It has ‘anti Covid Protection’ printed on it..

    When wearing it I am no more or less likely to catch CV than someone wearing a mask. I know which one I’d prefer to be wearing too.

    1. The point of wearing a mask isn’t to keep you from getting Covid. The point of the masks is to slow the spread of the virus from people who have it but don’t know it yet. People can be infectious for up to two weeks before showing symptoms. If everybody wears a mask in public, then the virus has a harder time leaving an infected person. Masks don’t do much to filter out the virus coming to you, but they do a lot to catch the droplets going out.

      It isn’t perfect, of course. I’ve read estimates of masks reducing the infection rate by 70 percent.

      You need a majority of the population to wear masks for them to do any good. It’s sort of like herd immunity in vaccinations.

      I accidentally clicked “Report” instead of “Reply.” Who ever checks the “Reported” posts, please disregard.

      1. The editors actually read any “reported comments” and determine whether it is offensive before deleting it.
        (unless it is one of my comments that gets “reported”, THEN it is automatically sent to the bit bucket B^)

        1. @Ren: You’d be surprised how many of your comments we accidentally let through! :)

          Masks keep you from giving it to other people, which is good if you have it but don’t (yet) know it.

          This project is purely ridiculous, with a side order of insane-looking. Love it.

    2. Why do people keep commenting on articles without bothering to read them. Of course this isn’t effective at preventing Covid infection, it even says so in the article:
      “the mask is just a prop and should not be used as protective equipment”

      I’ll let Joseph’s reply suffice if you don’t actually _care_ about the contents of the article and just wanted a soapbox for anti-mask views.

      1. Because this article has a link-text that has already implied that you only need the mask functioning during the time that other people are nearby, which is false.
        > a mask with an opening that shuts automatically when other people are nearby.

        If you’re not masked, if you’re infected , you are expelling infected droplets onto the area around you, setting up Indirect Transmission of the infection to others.

        Note: while the incubation period is usually 2 days to 14 days, it ranges from hours out to 27 days (possibly 29 days), before onset of symptoms. And potentially longer for those presymptomatic who manage to fight off the infection without onset of symptoms but take over a month to do so.

        And for the record, back in the SARS outbreaks, a Brampton hospital did a study that found that medical personal wearing either a surgical mask or a N95 respirator (didn’t matter which) had the same benefit to the wearer of reducing their infection rate by 85% compared to those not wearing one. As a properly fitted respirator provides superior filtration, but wearing either type resulted in the same benefit, suggests that the benefit didn’t come from filtering inhaled air, but from: preventing touching mouth & nose, or reminding one not to touch face (eyes), or reminding one to follow protection protocols (like washing hands properly), etc..

    3. Citation needed…. or are you a hermit? It’s widely accepted that when they’re near other people medics should wear masks for their own protection (and to protect others).

      AFAIK medical professionals have similar biological systems to the rest of the population so it’s not a vast leap to think what might protect them might protect other humans when in close contact.

      There are studies showing masks do filter out some CV size particles and studies showing masks protect non medical professional wearers from Flu. eg from the bottom of this previously linked site

      1. If you’re not sick with the virus, yes, wearing a new N95 mask properly (no facial hair, no touching it, not letting it get soggy with moisture) will help. If you are infected, it’s really doing little more than becoming virus “flypaper” – a nice, moist and warm place for the virus particles to linger and be released with every exhale.

        Given the dearth of actual proper mask usage in public, I’d argue at this point, mask wearing is merely a social conformity marker and a way to virtue signal. It is amusing, though, to go out wearing a full-face, dual NATO cartridge N100 mask and see the mental turmoil on people’s faces as thoughts of “mask scary!”, “not fair!”, “nice mask!”, “where get mask?”, “too much mask but can’t say anything” clash in their heads.

        1. hehehe love those images and its all so true. Bad mask use really doesn’t help much if at all and just imagining the looks on folks faces walking around with the full face mask…
          Full on Gas mask for this piddly little bug seems rather overkill, but fun and actually nicer and easier to wear than some masks. Not saying this current bug harmless, but its far from the really deadly end of the spectrum – all the data I’ve seen makes it seem like a slightly worse version of regular flu’s which go round every year.

          1. Another ‘slightly worse than flu’…
            You might want to read some of the medical papers that detail the range of symptoms, severity and long-term/permanent consequences to the non-Mild Recovered, and even some of the mild cases. A friend has a number of extended family member who are doctors or nurses. One is on a respirator and is expected to succumb. Another had a mild case, but is now sterile (male in 30s, fortunately already has two children). Another is a nurse in her twenties. She’s recovered but lost near 40% of her lung capacity and one of her kidneys is dead and now needs to be removed (that was last week, it may be out now). She’ll never work as a nurse again, and hadn’t paid off her student loans yet.

          2. That’s five of seven infected. The others are still running the course of the disease – outcome not yet known.

            Check out the charts showing typical weekly deaths for New York City, and compare the numbers of deaths for various causes, vs. the huge spike up for Covid-19.

            And it’s not just deaths. Thousands will be medically affected for the rest of their lives, and at increased risk with seasonal flu, etc.. There’s been a lot of people in their 20’s and 30’s rather surprise to find themselves hospitalized and facing life-changing consequences.
            “Slightly worse version of regular flu’s”? Seen them rent refigerator trucks to store bodies outside hospitals before?

          3. The problem is that there are not 2 (completely recover or dead), but another outcome of this virus: recovered but with other long term health issues.

            This virus is pretty nasty as it seems to affect a lot f the organs and blood vessels. The more I read about it, the more it reads like a doomsday virus and won’t be the only one either.

  2. “Most of us currently have to deal with wearing face masks in our daily life”. Honestly, I think it should have been “The vast minority of us currently have to deal with wearing face masks in our daily life”.

    1. That depends where you work, I guess.
      If I go in to the office, I have to wear a mask now. They are issued at the door.
      In fact, my employer bought a two-line mask making _machine_ they were so keen that we wear them.
      If you look on Alibaba a 5000 mask-per-hour machine is about $100,000 (this is probably a more pragmatic solution to mask supply than home sewing)

      1. The problem is getting the meltblown nonwoven fabric needed for filtering. Let’s say the prices of the raw material has been inflated over 10X in China (supply vs demand) and what you can get is from very shady sellers. This is one of the reasons why huge amount of the orders are rejected by health organizations.

        The machine is actually very simple – just a few rollers, something to create the folds, cut and ultrasonic welding the layers + rubber bands.

    2. I don’t know about “vast minority”. I still hear a lot of cars driving past my house. But I was kind of questioning “most of us” too.

      “Most of us” are supposed to be just staying home.

      I’m lucky enough to have a job where I can keep working from home. I’ll do so for as long as my employer allows me or until we don’t need facemasks anymore.

      I find facemasks to be extremely uncomfortable. No, that’s not an argument against wearing them when one must go out. It’s an argument for not going out.

      I see people online in places including this article talking about masks being hot. Ok, they are but that’s not the main problem for me. I could handle a dry heat. It’s the moisture. I am very conscious of my breathing, do so through my nose not my mouth and talk as little as possible and yet after 20 minutes or so I feel as if I’ve stuck my face into some sort of steamer. Another half hour and I feel like my skin is burning, from irritation not heat.

      Is my breath unusually moist? Or do others just not mind that feeling the way I do? Or is it just something nobody talks about?

      Am I doing something wrong?

      1. ” Another half hour and I feel like my skin is burning, from irritation not heat.”

        Hmm, do you have scales? Leathery wings? Do white-haired lovelies ride around on your back? Maybe you are a dragon?

      2. Surgical masks are far more comfortable than DIY type masks (sanding masks) and I’m sure more comfortable than N95 masks. I wore a surgical mask for 6+ hours and had slightly uncomfortable ears – it was a tad moist too but not a bother, but 10 min in a semi-rigid dust mask and I’m miserable.

        Cloth masks can be made to the same level of comfort as surgical masks and will slow down outgoing splatter and block some incoming.

        I think the leakage out of the side of surgical masks when exhaleing is a positive feature it as my glasses are less prone to fogging too.

      3. My DIY mask does a very decent job of preventing air leakage as the mask inflates and deflates as I breath and my safety glassy doesn’t go foggy. Compared to the cheap surgical mask without a nose wire, mine is doing a better job.

        Breathing is hard as I had to make the choice of better filters over pressure drop. Trapping that extra moisture makes my overcompensating nose for compensating the otherwise very dry air runny. :(

        The streets are pretty dead in my area as a lot of places are shutdown. The next little while gets more critical (to wear a mask) as they are deciding to loosen the shutdown.

  3. > If you’re not sick with the virus, yes, wearing a new N95 mask properly (no facial hair, no touching it, not letting it get soggy with moisture) will help. If you are infected, it’s really doing little more than becoming virus “flypaper” – a nice, moist and warm place for the virus particles to linger and be released with every exhale.

    That is false.
    A mask protects others from infected droplets the wearer otherwise would expell onto: them, their clothing or surfaces or objects people may touch.

    For the wearer, it stops expelled droplets from landing on or immediately near their mouth & nose. And if it gets on the wearer’s hands, a mask prevents them from touching their mouth & nose. As that is believed to be a driving and the most common infection route, wearing a mask has an obvious benefit.

    For more, see my post above.

  4. Hey Moritz – Awesome face mask! However, I don’t think it’s very effective in reducing spread of infection. What if you were going around a corner and an infected person walked through a door around that corner and breathed the virus into the air? The face mask will probably not have detected that person and stay open as you round that corner. At least the face mask mandates have been instilling new habits for public health and safety, very important in the unfortunate case that a more deadly virus begins to circulate…

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