We’ve now been living with face masks for over a year and while they slow the spread of COVID, there are also plenty of downsides to them. While most people find them uncomfortable, anyone with glasses can tell you how frustrating it can be when their mask causes their specs to fog up, while those with sensitive skin know all too well how masks cause irritation and breakouts.
Well if you’ve ever had an idea on how to improve face masks, you might be able to earn some cash for your creativity. The Department of Health and Human Services just launched what they are calling the Mask Innovation Challenge. They’re looking for ways to make masks more comfortable so that people wear them more often, and they’re going to pay out $500,000 in total for the most innovative ideas.
It will be split into two rounds, with the first round seeking ingenious ideas, and the people behind the ten best ones will each get $10,000. In the second round, prototypes can be submitted. The creators of the five best entries that take into consideration filtration, fit, effectiveness, comfort and how easily they can be mass produced, will each get $80,000.
According to a press release from HHS, “We know that properly and consistently worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for a variety of reasons. With this mask challenge, we want to get people across the country involved in developing new masks that are both effective and comfortable. This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies.”
Ideas for the first round, which will be judged on filtration efficiency, inhalation airflow resistance, fit and more, are due in by 5 p.m. ET on April 21st. You can enter here. Details for round two will be announced at a later date.