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Now that facemasks have become a normal part of everyday life, you might have noticed how it doesn’t go down too well with your phone’s facial recognition software. There may be a solution coming – Huami is a Chinese tech company that’s developing an N95-style mask that’s transparent and even self-cleaning.  

It’s becoming common for cities and communities to require everyone going outside to wear a mask and lots of the big airlines in the US are planning on making them mandatory on all planes very soon. The new normal definitely has facemasks in it. There’s been a shortage of N95 and medical standard masks, so much so that they’re only being given to healthcare workers; Vanessa Hand Orellana notes for cnet that most people are working with cloth masks at the moment. 

Cloth masks can indeed help contain the spread of coronavirus, but it’s not a perfect solution. Small particles in the air don’t get filtered out, the ventilation in them isn’t great, and you need to make sure you’re giving your mask a proper wash regularly. Worst of all? You can’t get into your phone using Face ID anymore. 

The Amazfit Aeri mask from Huami is intended to solve most of these issues you’ve been facing. There’s going to be air filters you can remove for cleaning and you also get in-built UV light emitters. You can charge the mask in a USB-C slot for a couple of minutes and it’ll automatically get disinfected. Every filter that you use in the mask would be able to last for up to six months, so says a spokesperson for Huami. Compare that to a normal N95 mask, which you can usually get 8 hours of use from. The N95 standard means that the mask will block out at least 95 percent of all airborne particles in tests laid out by the US Food and Drug Administration, it’s not completely clear that Huami is trying to achieve the same level of filtration. 

Aeri concept art showing built-in ultraviolet lights that disinfect it. Image credit: cnet.com

The material for the Aeri mask is going to be transparent and have anti-fog properties, meaning your features should be visible enough that you can once again unlock your phone just by looking at it and using Face ID. The mask design is modular, so you can attach different accessories to it, like a mini fan or a plastic eye guard, making exercise just a little more bearable and a little less suffocating.  

Image credit: cnet.com

Huami are at the prototyping stage of the Aeri mask, with an estimate of six to 12 months to get it to market. It’s not really possible to give a price this far out from production, but the spokesperson did say that the final aim was to make it affordable, much the same as its Amazfit products. To give you an idea of what that means, the Amazfit Bip smartwatch is in shops for $80 which is a good 50 percent cheaper than a Fitbit, Samsung, or Apple watch.

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