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Razer develops concept for transparent light-up face mask

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Project Hazel by Razer

Technology company Razer has developed a conceptual design for a clear plastic face mask with lights and a built-in sound system to improve social interaction during the pandemic.

Called Project Hazel, the mask would be transparent in order to allow the wearer to use gestures such as smiling while speaking.

Razer unveiled the design at CES 2021, which is normally held in Las Vegas but was held online this year due to coronavirus.

Razer's concept mask in black and white
Clear plastic would make the wearer’s mouth visible

The clear material used around the mouth of the Project Hazel mask would also allow people who are hard of hearing to lip read during a conversation.

Built-in lights would turn on automatically in low light conditions, to keep this function working in the dark, and the lights could also be customised to display different colours and effects for fun.

Medical staff have noted that standard face masks can pose difficulties for patients and carers with hearing loss who rely on lip-reading. They can also make communication harder and more anxiety-inducing for people with autism or learning difficulties.

Render of Project Hazel by Razer
Built-in microphones and amplifiers could transmit the wearer’s voice

Masks can also muffle people’s speech, but raising your voice projects more potentially-infectious droplets into the air around you.

To combat this, Razer’s Project Hazel would have a system of microphones and amplifiers that would transmit the wearer’s voice, so their speech would be audible while maintaining safe social distancing.

Razer's light-up concept mask
Customisable lights could be used in the dark

The company said they have already applied for a patent for this Razer VoiceAmp Technology.

“Razer acknowledges the uncertainty in the road ahead, and so it was our duty to help protect our community members and prepare them from invisible threats,” said Razer co-founder and CEO Min-Liang Tan.

“The Project Hazel smart mask concept is intended to be functional, yet comfortable and useful for interacting with the world while maintaining a sociable aesthetic.”

Razer's Project Hazel mask charging in its box
The mask’s batteries would charge wirelessly in its box

Project Hazel would also include ventilator pods to regulate airflow and filter airborne particles, which Razer said could give the masks “N95 medical-grade respirator protection”.

These detachable pods could be sanitised by being placed inside the mask’s wireless charging box, which would have disinfecting UV lights.

UV lights inside Project Hazel's box
The charging box would have UV lights to sanitise the mask between uses

A layer of silicon and adjustable ear loops would keep the mask flush to the wearer’s skin, creating an effective seal.

The transparent part of the mask would be made from recycled plastic. Razer said that part of the motivation for making a tech-enabled reusable mask would be reducing the amount of environmental waste caused by disposable versions.

South Korean designer Haneul Kim drew attention to this problem recently with his project Stack and Stack, which turns discarded single-use face-masks into furniture.

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