New, improved Swiss face mask is ‘an invention born out of frustration’

New, improved Swiss face mask is ‘an invention born out of frustration’
This device made from plasticine fits under the mask. Photo by Airplusplus
Having difficulty breathing under a conventional mask, two inventors from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL) created a more comfortable and user-friendly facial protection. But is it effective?

Matthias Vanoni, a former doctoral student at EPFL, and Raymond Morel, engineer and doctor of mathematics at the same institution, have invented an aerator that makes it easier to breathe under a mask.

The device sells for €10 a piece and first deliveries are scheduled for November.

‘Airplusplus aerator’, as the new invention is called, “was born out of frustration”, Vanoni said, as he and his colleague couldn’t breathe comfortably under commonly-used masks.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Switzerland's nationwide mask requirement 

The device, made from plasticine, a soft modelling material, is placed on the chin and fits into a mask. 

“It improves breathing, evacuates CO2, and eliminates the fogging of glasses”, the Airpluplus says on its website.

Once the design and the 3D model of the aerator device were completed, the two inventors had to look for manufacturers in China.

That’s because Vanoni and Morel “encountered snobbery” from producers in Switzerland and France.

“They weren't interested in the product and the offers weren't very attractive to us,” Vanoni pointed out.

The aerator fits snugly with both disposable ‘surgical’ masks and the kinds made of cloth.

Even though the device slightly spreads the mask and allows air to circulate inside, “it is very unlikely that droplets will enter under the mask or escape from the sides,” Vanoni noted.

“The risk of contamination is therefore negligible”, he added.

However, according to Bertrand Kiefer, editor-in-chief of the Swiss Medical Review, the invention greatly reduces the effectiveness of the mask.

“We used to think that the virus was transmitted by droplets, but we now know that it can be spread by aerosols. It is therefore necessary to favour breathing through the mask which filters the air,” he said. 


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