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Cold Masks

Cold Masks

Late last year, the world (except probably Japan) would not have imagined that in a few months, they would not be able to see full faces in public. And yet, now most people are buying, and some people are making their own cool masks at home.

Over the last three months, I’ve on occasion thought about the design of masks. The N-95 mask (N in N-95 is for ‘Not resistant to oil’), has been recommended by some as being one of the better masks to defend against the Chinese virus.

In the world outside, we see everything from simple synthetic masks to the light blue surgical ones, fancy ones with respirators, and even handkerchiefs and dupattas being used as masks.

However, one problem with everyone wearing masks and makeshifts (kerchiefs, etc.), will be a possible deterioration of social fabric and societal behaviour. Because faces aren’t visible!
It is possible that society as we know it could slowly tend to become a bit colder and indifferent. Because social connects aren’t quite the same when you can’t see a full face and a smile. On occasion, we don’t recognize known people because they are wearing a mask. And far more often than that, a ton of non-verbal communication, the grins and smiles, all get ‘masked’. The inability to see faces could affect the quality of communication and connect. This could affect us as individuals and as a world considerably over the coming months.

Source: pic 1 and pic 2

Feel any difference when you see each Mona Lisa?

Let our masks not make us more cold and indifferent than we were.

The alternative: The only one I could think of, are Transparent masks.

Ashley Lawrence above, a college student studying education for the hearing impaired, designed this mask to help them lip read and follow expressions. Similarly, a few others around the world, a nurse included, have designed transparent masks in recent months. The current option of plastic for a mass market solution however, would be disastrous for the environment.
In labs, there seem to be some natural alternatives like transparent wood. But at the moment, they might be far from ready for deployment.

Q: How can we design an affordable mask that 
(i) protects us from the virus,
(ii) doesn’t harm the environment, and
(iii) helps retain quality of social interactions and connect (by being transparent)?


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  1. Nicely articulated Shrutin. I believe that a good mask should allow easy breathing. However still unsure that how that will have anti-virus properties. I believe that keeping self hygeine will be more important.

    1. Thank you, buddy!! Great to see your comment. How have you been? You’re absolutely right about self hygiene being a safer bet than masks. And spot on about the actual effectiveness of masks. Here’s what I shared with a friend:

      The recommended ‘safe’ masks are the N95 ones, which claim a 95% protection against particles of 0.3 micron size.

      Now unless I screwed up my “Google” calculations, the N95 mask can block 95% of particles of size 0.0003 mm (that’s 0.3 micron converted to mm).
      However, the Covid-19 virus particle size is 120nm, which is 0.00012 mm, meaning smaller than what the N95 can offer up to 95% protection against.
      Making it pretty much useless at close proximity to an infected person.

  2. Yes no doubt, connection is not as good as it used to be prior and masks covers nearly 3/4 th of the face so no smile and at times its suffocating ,
    Just a thought Shrutin , what other side what i think about the communication u told i feel the best part of masks (ofcourse its a temporary phase and will be waived off in cmg time,say hardly 2 to 3 mths and things will be normal is what i think), it shows the eyes and that is at times the best way of expression as only that part of face is visible clearly……
    About masks innovation then i feel doctors and other social workers helping are wearing full kit and covered fully , we lay man have to just wear a face mask that too for our and our fellow beings protection ,its a passing ohase and will pass soon,so rather then getting masks i feel women should use transparent dupattas for outing so breathing and visibility bth there and plus protection while men can use handkerchiefs !!
    As this covid actually have makes us know who is near and who is far , well masks are better and mentally satisfaction from protection against virus, it can be made of muslin cloth where breathing visibility and protection all can be served and washable so environment can be saved by no disposals……
    Plus bth men and women can use it !!!

    1. Interesting thoughts, Swati!
      I was looking at the specifications of the medically recommended N95 masks, and the size of the Covid-19 particle. Even the N95 masks would not be able to stop the virus at close range, so I feel dupattas and muslin cloths would not serve the purpose, especially when one is out on the streets, because safe distance often cannot be maintained, especially in crowded cities.

      While you’re right about eyes being a good medium of expression, it does work relatively well with people we know. However, with strangers, there is not enough ways to know the state of the other person with half the face covered. And that is what I feel could cause conflict or misunderstandings.

      1. Yes true Shrutin, medically its tough for any masks major crowding area to protect us from disease, as even with the PPE kit doctors are gtg the disease
        So its best way to avoid the crowded areas, as far as possible as this world is not going to end by this, so why not we relax for sometime and live the way it has to be… At home and distant
        In this situation, misunderstanding and conflicts with unknown is what could be avoided if we just understand the situation and others too i feel knows it so now people are use to it …so all understands and won’t expect much from others

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