ST Engineering’s Subsidiary Develops The AIR+ Smart Mask, Brings A New Approach To Protective Mask Technology
AIR+ Smart Mask fits a wider range of face sizes, including children; designed with a unique vent valve and attachable micro ventilator to improve breathing comfort
Singapore, 11 March 2015 – ST Engineering’s subsidiary Innosparks Pte Ltd (Innosparks) today launched the AIR+ Smart Mask, a new protective mask (the Smart Mask) and a micro ventilator (the AIR+), that involved breakthrough innovations that better protect mask wearers against airborne contaminants.
Certified to meet both the EN 149:2001+A1:2009 (European) and the N95 NIOSH-approved (American) standards, the AIR+ Smart Mask is the result of more than a year’s R&D and trial testing by ST Engineering Advanced Engineering Centre and Innosparks.
The Innovation in the AIR+ Smart Mask
Protective masks available in the market today come mainly in one standard size, which may not adequately protect all wearers due to improper fit around the face. This makes wearers vulnerable to airborne contaminants such as the transboundary haze, pathogens and even occupational pollutants. Hence, the engineers focused their R&D efforts on a design that will provide better seal protection for all ages including children and the elderly, as well as frontline workers who have to wear masks for prolonged periods in exposed areas. The engineers saw that for these persons, improving breathing comfort and ease was a critical factor.
“Taking a fresh look at existing masks and their limitations, we focused our design on proper fit, and enhanced comfort for prolonged use. To do so, we applied our engineering and technical skill sets to challenge the status quo and invented what we can confidently say is the next generation of respirators,” said Mr Fong Saik Hay, Chief Technology Officer of ST Engineering.
Innovation #1: New Smart Masks give superior fit
The engineers researched the breathing patterns of individuals and the airflow dynamics that occur within the masks when worn. They measured face sizes of adults and children aged from 7 years and older, modelled these Asian face shapes on computers and ran mathematical simulations. With the use of 3D printing, the engineers designed prototypes with face shapes and sizes that could fit a wider range of face profiles. Upon attaining what were the most feasible mask designs, actual fit tests were conducted on adults and children to validate their product design. This developmental phase resulted in the first innovation: a truly differentiated product that offers mask sizes in small, medium and large sizes that fits the typical Asian face profiles.
To help wearers choose the right mask size with a proper fit, the engineers also designed a measurement gauge integrated into the product packaging.
Innovation #2: A Built-in Smart Valve
The engineers observed that exhalation valves on existing products were placed on the outside of the masks, making them less efficient in venting out stale air. Trial findings from airflow simulations showed that locating the valve on the inside surface of the mask instead led to an improvement of the efficiency of the valve and therefore breathing comfort. This finding resulted in the second innovation: a built-in smart valve to improve the ease and speed in which exhaled air could be vented out from the mask.
Innovation #3: Micro ventilator (AIR+) to improve effectiveness of the Smart Mask
Pushing the boundaries to improve the effectiveness of the Smart Mask was the development of an attachable, lightweight and battery-rechargeable micro ventilator. This third innovation eliminates the unpleasant build-up of heat, moisture and carbon dioxide inside a conventional mask after prolonged use. Defined by its compatibility to the Smart Mask, the micro ventilator (the AIR+) when used in combination with the Smart Mask is able to reduce relative humidity inside the face mask by up to 40% and reduce temperature by up to 4°C.
“The AIR+ Smart Mask is innovation in action. From what we know, with the three innovations, it is the world’s first respiratory mask to offer such an advanced means of protection for wearers. We have arrived at an elegant solution to close the gap in today’s protective masks and make a difference in people’s lives,” added Mr Fong.
European FFP standards and N95 NIOSH-approved level of protection
The Smart Mask is capable of filtering:
- Small, Medium and Large sizes certified as FFP1 – filtering at least 80% of these airborne particles (non-oil and oil based) and certified as N95 NIOSH-approved – filtering at least 95% of non-oil airborne particles.
- Large sizes are additionally certified as FFP2 – filtering at least 94% of airborne particles (non-oil and oil based) and certified as N95 NIOSH-approved – filtering at least 95% of non-oil airborne particles.
Besides the Smart Masks for the general public, Innosparks is also looking to introduce a version of the Smart Masks for industrial-type workers later this year.
ST Engineering is the only Singaporean company listed on the Forbes’ List of ‘World’s Most Innovative Companies’ in 2014. There are three patent applications for the innovations related to the AIR+ Smart Mask: the built-in smart valve, the micro ventilator (AIR+), and the measurement gauge integrated with the box packaging. The invention of AIR+ Smart Mask stemmed from ST Engineering’s innovative mindset of creating solutions for issues that affect Singapore and beyond.
AIR+ Smart Mask to be available in Singapore
“We are both an engineering company and a corporate citizen; we apply our expertise to meet the many needs faced by people in Singapore and the world. We are happy that we attained all the required certifications for the AIR+ Smart Mask in this year when we celebrate Singapore’s 50th birthday. What we have developed is an example of how innovation and engineering can be put at the service of people for good,” said Mr Tan Pheng Hock, President & CEO of ST Engineering.
The Smart Mask and the micro ventilator (AIR+) are sold separately and will be available at selected Watsons stores from 13 March 2015.
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