eScent mask for personal protective assurance: a human-centred approach to PPE in the post COVID-19 world


The panic around coronavirus has resulted in global demand for masks.

The trauma associated with COVID-19 has led to the deaths of many healthcare staff. Recent research published in Cell \[1\] suggests that SARs-CoV-2 infects cells of the respiratory tract with the nose being the dominant site from which lung infections begin. This opens new directions for future intranasal wearable therapeutic strategies that could reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other coronaviruses in the nose.

The challenge of the pandemic requires imaginative collaborations between disciplines and could benefit from an innovation that enhances the emotional and mental wellbeing of the population.

eScent is engineering a new movement in wearable, sustainable voice-activated scent dispensing. In partnership with IF/Anchored-IN, we are commercializing a product that seeks to calm people with a soothing aromatic atmosphere to boost the immune system, whilst improving on current protection provided by FFP3 masks.

The aim of this project is to take the current eScent dispenser (TR3) to an enhanced- mask demonstrator in relevant environments (TR6) so that it emits a safe and effective aroma whilst blocking SAR receptors as a novel answer to PPE for frontline workers.

eScent is a wearable pico-litre dosed delivery device that dispenses any liquid via sensors/app/voice-recognition software. It builds on 20 years of sensor-induced scent-release technology and textile research (Central Saint Martins/Cambridge University), projects with Philips, North Face, and support from Google, TransTech Labs. Protected by 5 patents, eScent unites sensing human emotion and dispensing counter-active wellbeing aromas to improve quality of life.

The psychological effect of our intervention should radically reduce the trauma of healthcare, transport, and emergency workers. Our route to market is via GENTEX Europe (NHS/Military PPE supplier), with interest expressed by the NIHR Brain MIC, and University of Cambridge Clinical School as a novel way to mitigate the psychological impact of the crisis. Although our idea is not an immediate solution, it is highly relevant for future coronavirus outbreaks. If an effective vaccine takes longer than expected, it is also valid for the current pandemic. The dispenser would deliver a cosmetically approved liquid (with safety data for skin/eyes) from inside a facemask/visor that nurses/receptionists/bus drivers or military wear as a deterrent/prevention "cloud" to curb the spread of viruses and reduce trauma.

Our technology establishes and maintains a localized "sphere" of detectible levels of scent (and other sprays) dependent upon user-context and/or the environment dispensed from a voice-sensitive wearable liquid dispenser. Future iterations will use mask data, ML technology to personalize treatment and care such that evidenced-based antivirals/aromas can be delivered once an AI system has detected an increase in stress (using voice analytics) or environmental changes. Scent delivery is triggered by vital signs from worn biometric sensors in a smartwatch (e.g. temperature, HRV, speech characteristics/commands, location, contextual data in hospitals/shops, public transport) and contained in "consumables" consisting of bio-compostable/refillable capsules (circular economy).

There is no mask that dispenses compounds in real-time to prevent COVID-19\.

\[1\].Hou et al.,_SARS-CoV-2 Reverse Genetics Reveals a Variable Infection Gradient in the Respiratory Tract_,Cell 182,1--18,July,2020

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