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With expertise from Flanders: smart COVID-19 face mask

Holst Centre, a collaborative R&D lab operated by Flanders’ strategic research center imec and its Dutch counterpart TNO, has joined forces with Flanders-based innovation and development center Forcit Benelux. Their goal? To develop and commercialize a smart face mask that can help monitor recovering COVID-19 patients.

With expertise from Flanders: smart COVID-19 face mask

The need for a smart medical mask

While smart face masks already exist, they’re usually only destined for industrial use without medical certification. In the face of COVID-19, the need for smart medical face masks is rising quickly.

Research and innovation lab Holst Centre got to work and developed the core technology for a smart, medically certified mask. Now, it is partnering with Forcit Benelux, an innovation and development facility in Flanders, to finalize the design of the mask and bring it to market.

According to Jacobs, founder of Forcit Benelux, the biggest challenge lies in processing the digital mask into a washable and pliable product that can be used daily. To this end, Forcit is engaging with Tenco DDM, a company from Flanders experienced in special coatings.

First prototype ready

At present, a first prototype is ready and being tested by a group of participating physicians. The smart medical mask has a built-in microphone that amplifies the wearer’s voice. “During surgeries, it is essential that a doctor is well understood,” explains Henri Jacobs, founder of Forcit Benelux.

At the same time, the microphone functions as a sensor that logs respiration parameters, like oxygen saturation and respiratory rhythm. As such, the smart face mask serves a second purpose of monitoring recovering patients. Finally, the mask also indicates when its filter needs to be changed and can connect with other devices through Bluetooth.

Other smart uses

The smart face mask is an ideal solution for the remote monitoring of recovering patients in the face of COVID-19, but also for other diseases such as Ebola or tuberculosis. In time, Forcit Benelux and Holst Centre hope to design a third type of smart mask that detects when toxic substances are inhaled by firefighters or workers in the chemical sector.

More info

Holst Centre
Reported by
De Tijd newspaper
12 October 2020

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