A new face mask design competition hopes to stop the spread of COVID while getting young people engaged.
While the U.S. currently leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, rates are rising worldwide. According to Reuters, "Almost 40 countries have reported record single-day increases in coronavirus infections over the past week, around double the number that did so the previous week." Aside from the obvious leaders of the U.S., Brazil and India, countries like Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel and others are helping the U.S. lead this deadly charge.
Whatever we as human beings have been doing to stop the spread, is not enough. The easing of social distancing is one culprit. A failure to wear masks is another. The first thing can only be solved through government policies from individual nations and states. The second thing might possibly be solved through design.
Thus the X Prize Foundation, sponsors of the famous XPRIZE design competitions, have turned their attention to face masks with their Next-Gen Mask Challenge. They've looked at what non-mask-wearers complain about to identify five pain points: "Ill-fitting, uncomfortable, not breathable, and the most effective masks are often unavailable or expensive." Entrants are asked to design a mask that can defeat those complaints.
"We need an alternative—face masks that are readily accessible and affordable, functional for our everyday lives, fit a wide variety of wearers, and are effective in protecting the wearer and the community."
Interestingly enough, the X Prize Foundation is looking solely to youthful minds for this competition; they've limited entrants to the age category of 15-24. The top prize is $1 million, and registration is live now. The deadline for entry is October 22nd. You can learn more here.