Tired of using masks that fog up your glasses, irritate skin? Now you can design "the next generation of masks" that are low on cost, comfortable to wear, and safe against Covid-19 pathogens, and also win $500,000. The competition — Mask Innovation Challenge — has been announced by the US government's Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). It is open only for participants from the US.
While public health agencies worldwide are encouraging people to wear masks to curb the spread of infectious Covid-19, prolonged wearing increases issues such as skin allergy, physical discomfort, and difficulty in communicating. The new challenge aims to develop cheap, innovative, and effective designs of masks that can provide comfort, utility, and also has protective abilities against respiratory disease pathogens, according to a statement on the BARDA website.
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Furthermore, people should be able to put them on and wear them without extensive fitting procedures or complicated user instructions, it added. The challenge is divided into two phases: Design and Proof-of-concept. The Design phase is further divided into two: one which focuses on improving already existing designs for masks and the second is to incorporate new technologies and materials in mask designs.
Phase one will have up to 10 winners, who will receive $10,000 each. The last date to submit designs for phase one is April 21, 2021. For the second phase, participants require to develop masks based on a hypothetical scenario. After lab tests by NIOSH, $400,000 will be divided among five winners. Further details will be updated later, the statement said.
As the Covid-19 cases spread worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) advised using face masks, in public where social distancing is not possible. The infectious disease has affected 131 million and claimed 2.85 million lives globally. (IANS/SP)