2020 has seen many projects around masks and how they could become more comfortable and adapted to situations outside of the hospital, such as sports and industrial work.
To that end, xRapid Group is launching a Kickstarter campaign for its smart mask called xHale. As of today, the project seems fully funded, so we’re hoping that the project can quickly progress.
xHale is an actively-ventilated mask, which means that it has two fans that will force additional air in and out. The fans are activated by an air pressure sensor and try to match the user inhales and exhale as naturally as possible.
Ideally, the company would like its customers to “forget they are wearing a mask.” It remains to be seen if that goal is achievable, but the mask does come in three sizes (S, M, L) and four colors to adapt to your body and style as much as possible (blue, light grey, light flesh tone, and black).
As a result, breathing with the xHale should be much more natural than with a passive mask. We haven’t tested a prototype, so there are still pending questions, such as whether the fans can kick in fast enough or if there’s a small delay.
The air always circulates through FFP2/FFP3 filters, which offer a high filtration and protection level. xRapid says that the mask can run for ~8 hours before requiring a charge via USB-C.
Overall, the concept is plausible, and we think that it should work. Other companies have explored different concepts like the LG Battery Mask, and Google even has proposed a similar-sounding idea. Razer is also looking at active-breathing masks.
xHale can connect to a smartphone app (iOS or Android) to stream live respiratory data. This gives the user additional information on their breathing, and I imagine that it could be used in sports or even in healthcare.
xRapid offers the option to add oxygen or pollution sensors to the mask to cater to specific use cases. The app is even smart enough to run diagnostics to provide feedback and advice.
The idea started on the onset of the C19 virus in march when Jean Viry-Babel, the CEO, and co-founder of xRapid, was bothered by the uncomfortable medical masks. Following that experience, he wanted to design a mask with which breathing could be as natural as possible.
According to the Kickstarter page, the mask is scheduled to enter production in January and ship in March 2021. Prices start at $99.