Our Story This project is clearly inspired by the worldwide struggle due the impact that the deadly Coronavirus pandemic has had on everyone. Sometimes, we all just wish we could not think about it and it would go away. We can't ignore the virus, but maybe we could let machines help keep us safe and provide a hands-free peace of mind to the mix.
What does it Do? The Auto-Mask Cap allows for a hands-free Bluetooth enabled deployment of a mask to protect you and your loved ones at a moments notice. As this is a software enabled mask, it eliminates any sort of risk of accidentally touching your eyes, nose, or mouth to keep you safe as well.
When used in conjunction with another Auto-Mask Cap, the Bluetooth functionality works between them to detect each other within Bluetooth's short range and deploy masks for both wearers who are entering the range. Once out of the range, the mask retracts so you can enjoy the air of your own space again.
Construction The Auto-Mask Cap is constructed of stepper motors mounted with 3D-printed parts, designed in FreeCAD. These mounts are hand-stitched to the sides of baseball caps, and the electronics are mounted and sewed to the back of the hats for control. The motors and Bluetooth functions are handled by an ESP32 microcontroller and L239D Stepper Motor Drivers.
Challenges While designing this project, we among other groups at Grizzhacks 5 had to find a solution to effectively, healthily, and safely design and implement our hardware project. By using as much time over Discord calls to design code, CAD models, and electronics diagrams, we did as much work digitally as we could. In addition, we realized time is important when prototyping and 3D-Printing in a Hackathon. Every print ran is paid for with precious time, and finding ways to stay busy and progress the project was a struggle, but paid off in the long run.
Why is this Project Important? This project is important because it helps demonstrate that robots and electronics are capable of doing more than manufacturing. Sometimes mundane tasks or dangerous tasks can be tasked out to technology, to the very silicon and electrons to limit the repetitiveness of everyday life. This goes no different for strange situations like a global pandemic. We believe that machines helping humans is a beautiful thing, and with this project, we are tossing our ideas into the wild to fuel more discussion on how machines can help with the COVID-19 pandemic going further.
What We Learned In this project, we learned that time is valuable, and that being flexible and willing to jump in can help a project turn around in rapid time. While the prototype was being perfected, a more finished product was constantly being put together in the background following our completed steps. This helped us all stay busy and on top of our efforts, which led to our successes.
Where Could We See This Idea Go? There are multitude of uses for this idea if it went mass market. For instance, one of the many ideas we had on how to implement this idea is how stores could add Bluetooth transmitters to activate the masks upon entry into the store. I believe that with more minds, the idea is so flexible that any idea could be beneficial to humanity. We wish and strive for a healthy world, to stop the sickness, and to make a more caring world with robot friends lending a hand.