The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to get used to the ‘new normal’. Masks have now become a part of our lives. In the last decade, the world saw a lot of innovations in smart wearables such as health bands, smart watches etc. This inspired us to make a ‘Konnex smart mask’ which can do a lot more than just protecting you from the deadly coronavirus.
What it does
Konnex smart mask does a lot more than just protecting you from the deadly coronavirus. We tried to leverage the technologies that are found in smart wearables into a smart mask. We came up with a number of crazy features that can enhance the overall experience of wearing a mask :
- Your mask can talk on behalf of you with Natural Language Processing : We used Dialogflow to build a conversational bot that can greet or reply back to people (IoT dependencies : Microphone and a speaker connected to a Raspberry Pi)
- Displaying the body temperature on a LCD display : We used a temperature sensor to fetch the user's temperature and displayed it on an LCD display.
- Your mask alerts you if a person without a mask comes in proximity to you (3 feet distance) : We used a proximity sensor to find if a person comes within a 3 feet distance. Computer vision is used to classify if the person in proximity wears a mask or not. If the person does not wear a mask, the user is immediately alerted with a sound from the speaker.
- Your mask has an anti fogging mechanism and an air purifier : One of the biggest difficulties faced by people who wear glasses is fogging when they wear a mask. Our fabrication makes sure that you don't encounter this problem.
How we built it
Phase 1 - Wire framing the design We used a Raspberry Pi as our central hub for the sensors and modules. We firstly created some mockups and wire-framed the prototype with hand drawn sketches.
Phase 2 - Making the prototype We connected all the required sensors and components to the Pi and programmed the functionalities. After completing all the functionalities of our mask, we attached the components to a face mask. We worked on fabricating the mask and making it look as neat as possible.
Phase 3 - Testing the mask
We stuffed the components inside two masks along with cotton so that it is comfortable to wear and neat in the outer appearance. We would add more components in the coming days to make the prototype more functional and better.
Challenges we ran into
With us all of us being used to participating in real life hackathons, it was definitely a task to get used to working with people around the globe, forming a team and doing everything virtually.
Another constraint was time. Building a model from scratch while simultaneously forming a team and managing tasks in 24 hours is let's just say, not easy.
Acquiring hardware materials for our project was also a little hard. One of our team mates had limited access to a local laboratory and we rented some hardware.
Most of us were from a software background and we had no idea about IoT and hardware.
Fabrication of the mask was the most difficult task considering the time constraints of the hackathon. With limited access to fabrication materials, it was very difficult to make a visually appealing prototype.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Teamwork - Although we were from different time zones, technical and cultural backgrounds - we are really proud of making an amazing project that fulfilled our expectations.
Networking - working with a highly enthusiastic group of people who want to create fusion of technology & medical care & deliver a product which makes people's lives easier.
Eradicating Boredom - wearing a mask for longer duration increases frustration & fatigue which can lead to decrease in productivity & killing willingness to step out of their home to accomplish important tasks.
Easy for an old age person to use - This mask will be really useful for the old people, lt will not only safeguard them from the virus but also helps them to do their most common activities, tasks which are important in their daily life without depending on other people to do it for them. We're proud of helping vulnerable people.
What we learned
We learned to implement Natural Language Processing on a Pi. We got to use a number of sensors for the first time (Temperature sensor, touch sensor and infrared proximity sensor) We learnt a lot about fabrication techniques and understood the importance of product design. Most of us were new to IoT and had only a minimal idea about sensors and ICs. Through MakeHavard we learnt a lot about Pi and usage of different sensors.
What's next for Konnex Smart Mask
Work on a better product design and fabrication which can provide better user experience and comfortability. Try reducing the cost per unit by using custom PCBs as an alternative to the components.