Published: 20th May 2020
UPES researchers just made a COVID mask that covers your whole head and lets you eat without removing it!
Developed by a team from UPES' mechanical engineering department, the helmet has been designed for school students and those with desk jobs. Check out how it works here
Masks have become the order of the day, but many would argue that they are uncomfortable and unsuitable for prolonged use. There are issues like humidity, improper fit and even pain due to the elastic band. These are some of the things that were considered when a team, led by Dr Ashish Karn, from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies (UPES), Dehradun designed the fabric helmet. Also known as the COVID (Comfortably Vented, Indigenously Designed) helmet, this will cover your eyes, ears and even the head in addition to your nose and mouth.
The most unique feature, says Dr Ashish, is that the helmet is well-ventilated. "It has been designed with a breathable, stretch fabric, quite similar to the ones used to make T-shirts for sports," says Dr Ashish. "While masks have to be adjusted frequently and don't provide a snug fit, there's isn't a need to do so with the helmet," he adds. A velcro bit will allow the user to adjust the helmet according to their head size. "The helmet is also equipped with a one-way air vent, located near the mouth, to ensure that a user doesn't experience additional pressure," explains Dr Ashish.
The team of researchers, which was led by Dr Ashish from the MultiPhase Flows Laboratory, Department of Mechanical Engineering, also included Dr Abhay Kumar, doctoral scholar Gaurav Mittal and a senior undergraduate student, Shashank Singh Deo. They have also considered eating and drinking while the mask is on. The detachable panel in front of the mouth is attached with velcro on the cheek for facilitating consumption of food and drink. How cool is that?
The helmets come in two variants - one equipped with N95 masks (priced at Rs 250) and another with surgical masks (priced at Rs 125). The patent for the helmet has been filed but it is yet to be mass-produced. "There are four designs currently, which will be tested widely before one is shortlisted," adds Dr Ashish. For extremely humid climate the team is considering the using netting, interwoven with the fabric, to cover the back of the head.
Who is it targetted at? Dr Ashish says it will be most useful for students who'll be attending school after lockdown. "Young children can't be expected to adhere to the norm of wearing masks. This helmet will also be useful for people with desk jobs, in air-conditioned offices, who have to wear masks all the time," says Dr Ashish.