The COVID-19 pandemic dictates that wearing face masks during public interactions is the new norm across much of the globe. As the masks naturally occlude part of the wearer’s face, the part of communication that occurs through facial expressions is lost, and could reduce acceptance of mask wear. To address this issue, we created 2 face mask prototypes, incorporating expressive display elements and evaluated them in a user study. Aiming to explore the potential for low-cost solutions, suitable for large-scale deployment, our concepts utilized bi-state electrochromic displays. One concept Mouthy Mask aimed to reproduce the image of the wearer’s mouth, whilst the Smiley Mask was symbolic in nature. We evaluated these masks prototypes in a remote online study. The smart face masks were considered useful in public contexts to support short socially expected rituals. Generally a visualization directly representing the wearer’s mouth was preferred to an emoji style visualization. As a contribution, our work presents a stepping stone towards productizable solutions for smart face masks that potentially increase the acceptability of face mask wear in public.
Link to the paper: https://dl.acm.org/doi/abs/10.1145/3410531.3414303