Xiaomi patents a smart mask that tracks how much air you breathe

“The Xiaomi smart mask will be able to track how much air you breathe to potentially tell if your lung capacity has increased or decreased over time”

Face masks and pollution masks have become a mainstream product in recent times, thanks to the steadily rising pollution levels around us. With the coronavirus outbreak in China, face masks have become even more imperative, and are being sold widely and in increasing volumes. Now, Xiaomi has been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a ‘smart mask’. The face mask, as proposed by Xiaomi, would come with an embedded computing unit that includes a processor to compute all the data from onboard mask sensors, a memory module to store the computed data, a battery to power all the instruments, and a connectivity module to relay all the stored data, alongside the standard air filtering purposes of the mask.

A schematic diagram from the Xiaomi smart mask patent, showing its processing module.

According to Xiaomi, the smart mask would include sensors that can calculate the “pollution absorption quantity” and record the total wearing time of the mask. Following these recordings, the processor onboard can initiate a wireless connection with an accompanying device, such as a smartphone, hence sending the data from the air that you’ve breathed within a stipulated time period, to an app. Once this data is shared, the mask can then call for the air quality index data from a central server to let you know the air quality of the city in which you are, in real-time.

Furthermore, the smart mask in question is also deemed to have health sensors embedded in the system, which would record factors such as the respiratory volume of every breath, as well as the total number of breaths taken by the user during the total wearing time of the mask. It would also include sensors such as accelerometers and gyroscopes to ascertain whether a user was in motion during the time the mask was worn, which can lead to varied results in terms of number of breaths taken, respiratory volume, etc. Such metrics will then be tallied with the gross pollutant quantity that is inhaled by the user. The latter will be drawn from data taken from the central server and sent to the mask from the accompanying phone.

The schematic flow of functions on the proposed Xiaomi smart mask.

Once the gross pollutant intake is calculated, the smart mask can tally this parameter against the filtration efficiency of the mask’s air filter and give you an estimate of the air quality that you are breathing in your present surroundings. Potentially, it could even help you determine if your lung capacity is increasing or decreasing over time. Such a mask, it seems, would qualify as a wearable healthcare product, one that finds significance given the present-day levels of pollution. This can potentially detect breathing anomalies, and also recommend ways for users to breathe healthier. The patent was granted to Xiaomi today and was filed by the company with the United States PTO on June 15th, 2016.

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