Swiss startup HMCARE to produce transparent surgical mask

By William Smith
A Swiss startup, HMCARE, is to industrially produce a true, fully transparent surgical mask known as the HelloMask...

A Swiss startup, HMCARE, is to industrially produce a true, fully transparent surgical mask known as the HelloMask.

While previous transparent masks have involved windows prone to fogging up and other issues, HMCARE said its mask provided both breathability and protection from pathogens. “Looking online you can find prototypes of masks that are partly transparent, but they’re just normal masks with some of the fabric replaced by clear plastic,” said HMCARE CEO, Dr Thierry Pele to EPFL.

A team from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a research institute and university in Lausanne, in partnership with Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, developed the mask, before creating the startup to bring them to market.

The startup has attracted around $1mn in seed funding. Utilising a biomass-based material for fabrication, the plan is for a market launch in early 2021. That material also ensures the mask is almost completely biodegradable. “Our material is made at 99% from a biomass derivative, and we’ll keep working on them until they’re completely eco-friendly,” said Pelet.

The company emphasised the emotional benefits of such a mask by revealing the wearer’s face and ensuring their expressions remained visible, while also facilitating improved communication between wearers in medical settings.

“We’ve had significant interest in HelloMask already from people and institutions in different walks of life. Empathy and trust are proven to have a positive impact on a patient’s wellbeing and recovery. A smile and a look can often speak more powerfully than words. HelloMask makes that possible,” said Pelet in a press release.

The company further said it had originally mainly intended the mask for use around children and the elderly, but that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had underlined the need for it in more situations, as initiatives for ordinary people to wear masks have become so prominent.

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