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Challenge Seeks Next-Generation Face Mask

Covid-19 face mask

(Christo Anestev, Pixabay)

14 July 2020. A challenge competition with a total purse of $1 million seeks a new type of face mask that people will be eager to wear to protect against infectious diseases. The Next-Gen Mask Challenge, sponsored by XPrize, is open to teams of participants age 15 to 24, with the first round of entries due by 22 October.

The competition aims to produce a design for protective face masks that overcome complaints of many people asked to wear them, even among individuals who support the idea of wearing masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 viruses. Many masks don’t fit well, are uncomfortable, fog-up glasses, and make it difficult to breathe. And all of that assumes you can find a mask to wear at a reasonable price.

The challenge therefore seeks designs for a functional face mask that protects against the spread of Covid-19, as well as be comfortable to wear, accessible for many people, and even designed with style. The challenge sponsors define functional as meeting filtration requirements of surgical masks. Detailed rules and specifications are available to participants after free registration.

The competition is open to teams of participants age 15 to 24. Individual registrants can join existing teams. For the first round, teams are asked to provide a computer-generated design for their mask, a list of materials, a 500-word description of the design, one- to two-minute video description, and an endorsement from a university professor or administrator, high school principal, or corporate CEO.

The deadline for the first round of entries is 22 October. On 2 November, the challenge sponsors will announce 25 qualifying teams, from which 10 semi-finalist teams will be selected. Further in-lab testing and judging will lead to selection of five finalists. From the five finalists, the winning team will be chosen in February 2021, with the first-place prize of $500,000. The judges will also decide on two additional winners to divide the remaining $500,000 prize money.

XPrize is sponsoring the challenge, an organization that holds competitions seeking crowd-sourced ideas for difficult technical and societal problems.

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