A face shield for safe smiles
A simple yet revolutionary face shield design can help protect children around the world from COVID-19
Researchers at Kyoto University in Japan have come up with a unique ergonomic design for a protective face shield made from recyclable PET plastic and string. It can be constructed in just three minutes using only common tools like scissors and a hole punch.
Professor Easan Sivaniah at Kyoto University’s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) explains, “Our face shield design addresses concerns about plastic waste and allows anyone to easily create personal protective equipment with recyclable materials.”
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is vital to maintain socio-economic activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world’s children stand to benefit most from practical application of this face shield design. Children everywhere are experiencing anxiety about infection, school closures, and the inability to see the smiles of their friends. Their vulnerability is amplified in disadvantaged and densely populated places such as immigrant camps, where social distancing measures are difficult and access to materials is limited.
The face shield allows children to see facial expressions, which is vital for social referencing - the emotional communication in which they interpret social cues from caregivers to interpret the world around them and regulate their responses.
In addition to Sivaniah, the team that designed the face shield includes Hidehiko Ota, Andrew Harold Gibbons, and 4th year undergraduate student Akinori Ishida from Sivainah Lab, which they also call by a nickname “Pureosity” Laboratory.
OOYOO Co, Ltd, a technology start-up conducting jouint research with Sivaniah Laboratory, is cooperating in the distribution of this face shield, but does not intend to profit from it. It seeks to partner with private companies and non-governmental organizations to cover material costs and distribute it to people -- particularly children -- around the world.
The face shield has already been delivered to children in Kyoto, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and India. It will also be distributed in some Africa nations beginning with Ghana, as well as orphanages and schools in Cameroon and Côte d'Ivoire, through a partnership with The Cowry Network
Tests prove effectiveness
Hidehiko Ota, who has worked as a production equipment engineer in the private sector, provided technical guidance for the shield’s prototypes.
“We developed a face shield that is foldable and portable, suitable for recycling, and aimed at using as little plastic as possible. Its simple design and materials can easily be adapted to production and distribution situations in each country,” Ota said.
The face shield’s effectiveness has been demonstrated by collaborative research with Professor Tomoaki Okuda of Keio University, who specializes in aerosol engineering and supports the Pureosity Laboratory on particle measurement technology related to masks. Professor Okuda used a high-sensitivity camera to show how the shield prevents droplets from scattering during exhalation. (Video on YouTube).