Ford is using its engineering prowess to solve the prickly coronavirus problem: designing a medical face mask that reveals the wearer’s facial expressions as wellTo read the lips. The automaker, which started producing personal protective equipment early, started in He developed a face mask with clear sheets that also filter out most airborne particles.
“In those early days, everyone was learning what it was like to live in a compelling environment. We quickly determined that while it is difficult for everyone to wear a mask all day, for people with hearing impairment, the biggest challenge is,” Jim Bombeck, effort leader Ford manufactures personal protective equipment, he told CBS MoneyWatch. “It inspired us to think about how we can help effectively serve these people [with a mask] You’re taking away another emotion that they depend on to communicate and communicate.
Bombeek is also seeing potential for Ford’s transparent ventilators to improve interactions between clinicians and patients as well as teachers and students.
The mask is still under development and its ability to be nominated has not been approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH certified N95 respirators form an airtight seal on the user’s face and filter out at least 95% of airborne particles. Any mask that claims to be N95 but does not bear a NIOSH seal of approval isAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
WhileAgainst the coronavirus, it is still deficient and is only recommended for use by healthcare workers. 3M Healthcare and Industrial Products recently admitted that it is still struggling to meet demand from frontline workers despite quadrupling production in the US currently, it manufactures 95 million respirators per month.
Ford expects the masks to be available in the spring, pending NIOSH certification. The company’s current focus is on testing ventilators, initially with first responders, medical personnel and educators. It is unclear how Ford will distribute the masks and whether they will be more widely available.
“We are seeking N95 certification and are working with NIOSH to ensure we go through the entire testing regime before we put it on the market,” said Bombeek.
The clear plastic panels are coated with an anti-fog treatment and can be replaced, says Ford. The panels are designed to provide a full view of the wearer’s face, while the side panels of the masks are made of a highly efficient filtering material, Bombeek said.
—Michael Robolo of CBS News contributed to the report