In a world-first, a group of students from ORT’s highly successful robotics program in Dimona, Israel, have created a face mask which makes it easier for people who lip read to communicate during the COVID-19 crisis.
The ‘Read My Lips’ mask has a transparent front panel allowing those who are deaf or have hearing impairments to read the lips of the person wearing the mask.
Students from the Roboactive #2096 team – which is part of the World ORT Kadima Mada YOUniversity program in the city – have won a number of international awards and competitions for their initiatives. Their work on the face mask promises to bring them further acclaim.
Team leader Roi Ledany – who spoke about the team’s experiences at World ORT’s annual Board of Representatives meeting in London a year ago – said: “We have planned, developed and created the mask from home, with the assistance of 3D printers over the last month. The result: the first mask of its kind.
“It is reusable, washable and can be sterilized, and is easy to breathe in. It is transparent in front to enable lip reading and is designed not to fog up from people’s breath. What’s more, it is comfortable and affordable. We believe we can change the world, even from home.”
Dan Green, World ORT’s Acting Director General and CEO, said: “The creativity shown by our students involved in this remarkable project is the perfect example of how ORT’s innovative spirit gives young people the tools they need to make a difference in the world.
“Our mission is to place the future in the hands of the next generation by focusing on STEM, problem solving and critical thinking. The Roboactive team’s work on the ‘Read My Lips’ face mask is the embodiment of this. We could not be more proud of their efforts.”
Alongside experts from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the Roboactive students have worked tirelessly in recent weeks to find a solution to the face mask issue.
The robotics team developed the mask using plans drawn up by BGU doctoral student Carolina Tannenbaum-Baruchi, whose parents are both deaf. The students found all the necessary materials and adapted the design for their 3D printers.
In Israel, members of the public face being fined if they do not wear a mask in all public places. The partnership is now looking to raise funds to mass-produce the mask, refine its design, and possibly market it outside Israel.
Maayan Levin, Roboactive #2096 mentor, told a local television news report that the intention now is to lower the sale price of the mask and make it available to those with hearing difficulties at cost price – currently around $4 (NIS 15.50).