Researchers develop smart facemasks that alert wearers to high carbon dioxide levels using NFC

Smart facemask with NFC sensor that alert wearers to high carbon dioxide levels via a smartphone app
SMART FACEMASK: The NFC sensing tag is put into a standard FFP2 mask and alerts the user via an app

Researchers at the University of Granada (UGR) in Spain have developed and tested a facemask fitted with an NFC tag that alerts the wearer via their smartphone when the level of carbon dioxide (CO2) they have breathed out into the mask exceeds recommended limits.

Researchers developed the FFP2-type facemask to make it possible “to ascertain the level of CO2 rebreathed in real time, using a smartphone application” and to alert users when they need to ventilate their mask in order to reduce the risk of adverse health effects caused by prolonged exposure to CO2.

“The system we propose is based on inserting a flexible tag into a standard FFP2 mask,” the researchers say.

“This tag comprises an innovative, custom-developed opto-chemical CO2 sensor, together with the necessary signal-processing electronics. Both the sensor and the circuitry are fabricated onto a lightweight, flexible polymeric substrate, forming the so-called ‘sensing tag’, which causes no discomfort to the wearer.

“The tag does not require batteries as it is powered wirelessly by the near field communication (NFC) link — similar to that used for making wireless payments, for example — of a smartphone, using an Android app. This custom-developed app is also used for data processing, alert management, and display and sharing of results.”

A short video (in Spanish) explains how the smart facemask works.

The researchers have now completed preliminary tests on the facemask and have released their findings and detailed information about the technology in a paper published by Nature.

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