The recent pandemic outbreak has led to further emphasis in personal hygiene and protective face masks. Although this situation has been hard for everyone, it has been especially difficult for those who struggle to communicate verbally. Our team wanted to build a product that promotes staying safe, prevents the spread of the virus and empowers those who need a voice.
How it works
Masque-txt is a smart mask that displays messages on a face mask by communicating with a phone app to obtain user inputs. In addition to typing messages that users wish to display, the user also has the option to add and delete common phrases for personalized and quick message display. Furthermore, the face masks are custom designed to have an LCD display which is connected to an Arduino wifi setup to the Masque-txt Android app.
The first step in our design process was deciding on the physical design of our face mask and the integration of a display with a comfortable face mask. While flexible screens do exist, they were not up to the standard we desired nor available to us for this 24 hour hack. Thus we decided to use a LCD display that would attach to a custom face mask. We also wanted a wireless communication between the app and the facial display. To achieve this, we decided to utilize an Arduino in the circuit to control the LCD display and to communicate with our app via wifi. In terms of hardware, we were able to display custom messages on the LCD and wire the Arduino such that it was free-standing (connected to a smaller power source), allowing for a smooth integration to our mask designs had we had access to the necessary parts. The UI was designed using Figma, with an Android as our target device. We aimed for a clean and minimalist design with a light colour scheme. Once it was completed, we moved on to coding the app functionality features, using React Native. We spent the majority of our time familiarizing ourselves with React Native and Firebase, debugging the text input, and the message save and delete functions.
Accomplishments & Challenges
Since half of our team consisted of first time hackers and we were all using React Native for the first time, it was a steep learning curve for all of us. Hardware integration was challenging due to limitations on the technology available, as only one team member could work on the hardware due to the virtual setting. Furthermore, researching, debugging and implementing the wifi feature with the Arduino proved to be difficult and with our limited time, we were unable to fully complete that feature. Nonetheless, we were able to design multiple face mask LCD attachment models, and we were able to learn a significant amount and we are all excited to attend more hackathons in the future!
What's next for Masque-txt
During team discussion, comfort was a common theme, thus we created various custom 3D face mask designs. In the future we hope to finalize all components of our product, fully complete the integration process and be able to test these prototypes with different materials to identify future areas of innovation and improvement.