New Delhi: Masks have become a near permanent accessory for most people on the planet after the pandemic hit a year ago. But they have also made some discomfort a part of life — consistent slipping of the masks below the nose, fogging up of glasses, hindering speech, and smudged makeup.
To ease these problems, a new startup MaskAid+ has made a mask support frame. All one has to do is take the frame, attach it to a mask, adjust for fitting and comfort, and get going. The product has been named after the start up.
While mask support frames or mask brackets have been in the market for a while, the makers of MaskAid+ promise a rare earth magnet supported structure that keeps the mask in place.
“The existing products in the market can hinder speech, don’t have a universal fit for all face types or a good attachment system. They have to be bent over outwards to stick to the mask which can also cause hassle. With the magnetic attachment system, MaskAid+ stands out from the rest of the market,” the start-up’s 24-year-old founder Joya Datwani told ThePrint. Datwani has sought a patent on the product.
Datwani said she started research and development on MaskAid+ in December 2020. Fifty prototype designs were tested before she zeroed in on the final product, launched earlier this month.
She has sold over 1,000 MaskAid+ so far. The item can be bought on the product website and at some local pharmacies in the national capital. “I plan to expand it to pharmacy chains, sell it on e-commerce platforms such as Nykaa going forward,” Datwani added.
A pack of 3 MaskAid+ costs Rs 399. They are 100 per cent reusable. Other such brackets available online, made of silicon or plastic, cost anywhere between Rs 500 and 1,000 for five masks.
Dr Bhavna Bansal, a pathologist at Max Hospital Saket said face brackets are useful and provide good support underneath a mask.
“At a hospital if I’m with a patient I would use N-95 masks only. But if one is wearing cloth masks in public, the (bracket) products are good and don’t reduce the effectiveness of masks. As a doctor, this face bracket has helped me breathe better during the entire day while also keeping my mask in place,” she told ThePrint.
How it works
Datwani said she took the template of oxygen masks and managed to fashion an inner support frame on that model, which helps a user breathe better, prevent skin irritation and protect makeup at the same time.
Dr Hemant Sharma, an orthopaedic surgeon at Moolchand Hospital said the bracket has helped him breathe better throughout the day and made wearing masks more comfortable. He added that it doesn’t make one more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.
“All that a bracket does is put some distance between the nose and the cloth, while still wholly covering your mouth and nose. I think everyone should try it,” he said.
According to Datwani, she created a cavity on the product and placed a rare earth magnet on it, to keep the placement of the bracket and the mask intact, preventing it from slipping.
The structure — made of high density polyethylene and weighing about 18 grams — derives much of its support from the fins situated at the top of the contraption, which sit comfortably on the cheeks of the user to reduce a vast majority of support taken from the nose by other styles of inner support frames.
“Discomfort is cited as the main reason why people do not like wearing masks. Believe me masks are here to stay and it’s important to innovate with such accessories to make the experience more and more comfortable going forward,” Datwani said.
The product is completely made in India, with raw material sourced from GAIL and manufactured in Noida, she added.
‘Little too late’
MaskAid+ works well with the average cloth mask. However, it proves to be uncomfortable if worn under a duck-shaped mask.
Upon wearing it the first time, the discomfort is the same as wearing a new pair of glasses but it subsides with time. Moreover, even though the product reduces fogging of the glasses, it doesn’t completely eliminate it.
Yugal Kumar, a 21-year-old engineering student who tried it on, was left unimpressed. “I’d rather buy the already available hard masks in the market instead of this. Besides, the product is a little too late. All of us have adapted to wearing masks all the time as it is.”
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)