floe mask

Vote for ASU students' cooler, fog-free mask design in million-dollar XPRIZE contest

By

Lori Baker

A student team within Arizona State University’s Luminosity Lab has emerged as a top-10 semifinalist in the million-dollar XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge. The goal: to build a better face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making them more comfortable, functional, affordable — and even stylish. The contest drew nearly 1,000 entries from young innovators in more than 70 countries around the world. 

From Nov. 20–25, the Luminosity team will compete in the public-vote portion of the competition, in which people will vote for their favorite mask design, with the top five advancing to the final round of the competition. Anyone, anywhere can vote for the Luminosity Lab team at Xprize.org/mask

XPRIZE is a nonprofit organization that uses global competitions to crowdsource solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges. The contest is sponsored by Marc Benioff, CEO and co-founder of Salesforce, and Jim Cramer, the host of "Mad Money" on CNBC.

The contest invited young adults ages 15 to 24 from around the world to shift the cultural perspective around mask-wearing behavior by developing the next generation of surgical-grade consumer masks. 

Led by Nikhil Dave, a student regent on the Arizona Board of Regents and undergraduate student earning a double major in neuroscience and innovation in society, the Luminosity Lab team includes John Patterson, a graduate electrical engineering student; Jerina Gabriel, an undergraduate graphic design student; Katie Pascavis, an undergraduate mechanical engineering student; and Tarun Suresh, a graduate industrial engineering student. 

The team’s design overcomes common complaints about masks through a bifurcated chamber design in which air exhaled from the nose is kept in a separate chamber from the face and mouth. 

“This means that your face stays cooler, the air you breathe in is fresher, and the flow of air stays away from glasses where it would otherwise cause fogging,” Dave said. “The separate chamber design also improves surface area, making it easier to breathe through the mask than other existing mask designs. Finally, with the addition of a custom-colored mesh layer on the outside, our mask can be custom-manufactured to the color and fabric pattern desired by the wearer, making it a more visually appealing article to wear on an everyday basis.”

“Studies show that masks are effective in slowing and preventing the spread of COVID-19, yet even as cases surge, a large number of individuals are still not adopting the preventive measure,” said Peter Diamandis, the founder and executive chairman of the XPRIZE Foundation. “We understand that masks can be ill-fitting, uncomfortable, unfashionable, and that the most effective masks are often unavailable or expensive for everyday people. We need an alternative. That’s why XPRIZE is turning to the world’s young innovators to help reinvent the face mask and create an accessible alternative that will help protect against the spread of COVID-19.”

As part of the current semifinals round, XPRIZE partners 3M and Honeywell are developing physical prototypes of the top 10 mask designs that will be distributed to the contest’s cultural ambassadors to try on and assess for style, comfort and function. 

In the contest’s final round, a panel of judges and industry experts will select a grand-prize winner plus two additional teams, which will split a $1 million prize purse and be connected to rapid manufacturing opportunities in the U.S. to accelerate production of their new mask designs. Winners will be announced in February 2021.

Learn more about the Luminosity team’s mask on Instagram (@theluminositylab) or Twitter (@LuminosityLab). Cast your vote for your favorite mask by Nov. 25 at Xprize.org/mask