One of the ways to protect ourselves and the community against the coronavirus is to wear masks and ideally, we would get tested every now and then to ensure that there are no asymptomatic carriers of the virus who might be unknowingly spreading the virus around the community.
That would be an ideal situation, but since this isn’t an ideal world, researchers at Harvard and MIT have since come up with an alternative – a 2-in-1 solution in which they have outfitted a mask with a sensor that can test the wearer’s breath for COVID-19 and have the results in the next 90 minutes. As this sensor is small enough, it seems like it could be retrofitted into a regular face mask.
All the wearer needs to do is breathe into their masks for about 15-30 minutes, press a button on the sensor, and after an additional 90 minutes, their test results should appear on a readout strip. This test can not only be used to detect COVID-19, but can also be used to identify other pathogens like influenza, and is apparently so precise that it can even differentiate between the COVID variants.
The upside to this is that it is also relatively inexpensive. The prototype costs about $5 to make, which means that when produced at scale, it could be a lot cheaper. Unfortunately it isn’t ready to make its commercial debut yet, but even when this pandemic passes, the researchers believe that these masks with built-in sensors could still be useful for future pandemics or even for military use to help detect harmful chemical agents.