New face mask addresses air pollution

14 Jan, 2020
 
Ao Facewear

A new mask launched at CES in January 2020 was developed with help from AUT’s BioDesign Lab. In a year that saw New Delhi’s government declare a public health emergency due to dangerous levels of air pollution, the mask represents a significant step in creating highly effective, wearable air filtration technology.

Research done by Master of Engineering student Bradley Nixon evaluated and validated the performance of the air filtration system for the Aō Air Atmos facemask.

Director of the BioDesign Lab, senior lecturer Dr David White, says working directly with industry is central to the Lab’s success. “Applying our research capabilities to solve real needs keeps the lab focused on delivering innovative solutions. For our academic staff and students, it provides an opportunity to develop products that will end up addressing real life issues.”

Dan Bowden, co-founder and CEO of Aō Air, the developer of Atmos Facewear, says the work done by AUT’s BioDesign Lab was a crucial part of the journey.

“Air pollution now kills more people than smoking every year,” says Bowden. “Anyone who has endured the wildfires in Australia or California, attempted to exercise during a pollution warning in Seoul, worked on a construction site in New York or danced at Burning Man knows the current technology is flawed and hasn’t changed in more than 60 years.  Aō Air’s Facewear goes far beyond the capabilities of any other wearable available to provide protection from air pollution and awareness of what is in their surrounding air. Our mission is to help people live without fear of air pollution.”

Compared to conventional filtration facemasks, which use an unreliable physical face-seal to prevent infiltration of polluted air into the mask space, Atmos instead uses fans to draw air through a filter and pressurise the mask space in front of a user’s mouth and nose, before venting around the mask perimeter.

The research found this method provides the user with an ‘air-citadel’ of filtered air to prevent infiltration of polluted air and is compatible with more face shapes and facial features including facial hair.

The Atmos Facewear was launched at CES Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020 with a pre-order price of $US350, and an expected delivery date of July 2020.

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