Face masks are in sharp demand nowadays, with the continuing COVID-19 outbreak meaning that paranoia amongst the masses is at an all-time high. Still, it turns out that there are still creative folks out there who are using their skills to come up with interesting ideas as the world combats the “global health emergency”, as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Danielle Baskin, a designer/artist/developer based in the U.S., recently tweeted that she created a new service that will help people protect themselves from “viral epidemics”:
If you head over to her website, FaceIDmasks.com, you’ll see that there are a multitude of options available, regardless of your gender, skin tone, or even facial hair. The masks are also N95-grade masks, and the website claims that they “work with facial recognition software”.
“You masks are custom printed with your face making phone access easy during viral epidemics”
Obviously, the masks are made on a made-to-order basis—upload your face using the web app, adjust the alignment of the photo, and get it printed. Computational mapping is then used to convert and print the image “without distortion”, while “natural dyes” used don’t affect breathability.
However, the masks are also not available right now, with the FaceIDmasks website also stating that they “will not be making these while there’s still a global mask shortage”, although they’re expected to retail at US$40 (about RM165) when they’re made available.
No launch date has been confirmed as of now, with Baskin saying that the masks need to be tested against more facial recognition technologies that are used in “numerous modern phones”.
It seems unlikely that the custom face masks would be able to dupe the facial recognition tech of most smartphones. Perhaps in older-generation smartphones, they might work, but with flagship phones like the iPhone 11 using a TrueDepth camera that captures an infrared image of your face, it’s not likely to work.
But still, perhaps when haze season rolls around, personalised masks such as these might see a rise in popularity. For now, I’ll have to admit, the masks look pretty comical to me. Even the website acknowledges this: