Computer programmer builds COVID-19 face mask with an array of LED lights that move like a mouth

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Computer programmer builds COVID-19 face mask with an array of voice-activated LED lights that indicate when a person is speaking

  • Game Designer and Coder Tyler Glaiel Created His Own Custom COVID-19 Face Mask
  • It uses LED lights to simulate the movements of the mouth when a person speaks
  • It can also show a smiley shape to indicate happiness with a tongue click
  • The mask parts cost around $ 50 and anyone can try to make it
  • Here’s how to help people affected by Covid-19










Game designer and programmer Tyler Glaiel has created a smart new twist on the face mask for people frustrated trying to communicate with their mouths covered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Glaiel’s created a fabric face mask with a panel of voice activated LED lights on the front, which move whenever a person speaks to simulate the opening and closing of the mouth.

The array of 16 LED lights can also be used to create a smiley shape if the wearer makes a clicking noise with their tongue.

“I had a random idea for this,” Glaiel said in an interview with the BBC on the origins of the project.

“I was wondering if there was, to have a face mask that just lit up with mouth shapes so I looked online to see if there was anything I could buy to do that and that there was really nothing there. “

Glaiel spent about a month experimenting with different ways to build the LED mask before settling on a final design.

It’s built using an Arduino Nano – a cheap microcomputer similar to the Raspberry Pi – which controls the LED lights and the voice recognition system and is powered by a nine-volt battery.

The LED panel fits into a sleeve in the fabric mask and can be easily removed for washing, while the LED housing can be periodically sterilized with UV rays.

The system can be built with a basic list of components that should be available at most hardware or electronics stores, including electrical wiring, a small microphone, converter, and electrical tape.

Programmer Tyler Glaiel shared step-by-step instructions on how to make the face mask in a blog post, and most of the parts are expected to be commonly available and cost around $ 50 in total.

The mask comes with a sleeve so that the LED can be removed and sterilized and the stones can be washed regularly

The mask comes with a sleeve so that the LED can be removed and sterilized and the stones can be washed regularly

It took Glaiel about a month of experimentation to come up with a viable design for the mask.  He says he doesn't plan on doing more or trying to sell them, but has shared the computer code to program the voice recognition system that drives the LED lights.

It took Glaiel about a month of experimentation to come up with a viable design for the mask. He says he doesn’t plan on doing more or trying to sell them, but has shared the computer code to program the voice recognition system that drives the LED lights.

LED lights tend to heat up, making the mask unsuitable for small children and unsuitable for wearing for long periods of time

LED lights tend to heat up, making the mask unsuitable for small children and unsuitable for wearing for long periods of time

Glaiel has published a step-by-step breakdown of the construction process in a blog post, which the BBC was able to reproduce for a total material cost of around $ 50.

“I don’t intend to sell them, so you’re going to have to make some yourself,” Glaiel said.

Glaiel also shared the computer code needed to operate the voice recognition and LED lights on Github, although users may need to modify the code further depending on the specific components used.

Ultimately, this is a tough project for newcomers with no previous experience in computer code or basic electrical engineering.

According to the BBC, the LED panel also heats up, so it is not ideal for children or in situations where a mask must be worn for long periods of time.


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