TIME and the Creation of the Coolest App for Facemasks (until our next one…)

Wikipedia defines TIME as ”the indefinite continued progress of existence and events that occur in an apparently irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future.”

Sometimes, it feels, during this pandemic and forced lockdowns, depending on what part of the world you live in, that time gets to replay over and over again each day, time for tea, time for lunch, time to take the trash out, time for bed, time to wake up, start all over again. EXCEPT….

Here at home, for the last 9 months it’s been anything but that, apart from the time for tea, and time for bed bits. Every day has been a constant learning experience. Moving from simply an idea, to some very complicated technological challenges for facemasks that many people have stated that they can achieve, when the realities of actually producing the results is far more complicated.

Take our recently provisional patented, facepiece software. On the face of it (pardon the pun), it simply scans your face from a mobile phone and produces a set of points that correspond to the interface between one plane and another. One of those planes happen to be your FACE….and the other is what will be a facepiece to rest against your face.

Finding a Needle (or the Right App Developer) in a Haystack

We asked many companies, both here in the USA and other parts of the world, to help us develop the app. Because of the complexity, it had to be easy to use, run on a mobile device and produce the result, without extraneous data which could identify the user (otherwise we would be held liable on grounds of personal security through something called GDPR guidelines, a personal security set of standards that have to be adhered to or the app would not be allowed to be used in Europe, for example).

Writing an app seems simple, when you say it, but as soon as you scrape the top layer away, you disappear down a dark complex rabbit hole of specification, platforms, platform development, languages, porting, and much more. Furthermore, the type of development of something this complex is not everyone’s skillset. The further down the code you dive, the harder the project, and the more expensive the project becomes. Because programmers, in general, want to make money as quickly as possible, that means that they want to use high-level languages to stick to web development of simple apps that can be turned over quickly, and create revenue for them and their company ASAP.

An app written for our purpose is unusual. Finding an individual or company willing, able and affordable was like looking for a needle in a haystack that was blown across continents. I think we ended up interviewing 8 or 9 companies after filtering down over 30.  In early January of 2021, after 4 months of looking for someone who had the necessary skills, and was willing to build the app, because of their personal belief system, not some corporate policy, we found our needle in the haystack.

Creating a Facepiece that Fits ONLY You with Bunches of Cool Benefits

It took 3 months to build this “not-so-simple” app. Using iOS as the platform to start, we are able to produce that desired set of points for us to be able to create the facepiece that would precisely fit anyone, anywhere. The one exception would be anyone with facial hair (moustache, beard). For those people I say, shave!

We produced the facemask design as a 2-part design (facepiece and mask). This approach allows us to reduce the amount of surface area that is in contact with the face. The soft material that the facepiece is made is of FDA- approved, silicone injection-molded rubber (we changed this too, more about materials in another blog).  We minimized contact area to ensure it is as comfortable as possible. It’s also washable and replaceable. 

This design is also more efficient than a whole-face design, that touches the face and feels hot after you wear that type of mask for long periods of time.

So, we get many interesting qualities from this design approach:

  1. A proper, custom-facepiece design that fits your face, and your face ONLY.
  2. Also, a universal mask with all the electronics riding away from your face – check out our website for more on all the functionality with our masks – and never comes into contact with your face.
  3. A facepiece that fits INTO the mask itself.

Our app runs on iPhone XS upwards, which will let you even add a text dedication, and sends us the information, for us to produce a facepiece just for you. The unique part of this effort is that we can make a facepiece for anyone from any part of the world, any ethnicity, or face. means anyone with a more or less pronounced bridge over the nose can be accomodated by our software scan.

The software has recently been going through some fine tuning after several iterations allowing us to quickly produce a unique facepiece in seconds. We had to develop new manufacturing processes in order to be able to rapidly build the components. Gareth, my co-founder, even designed and built a new machine to produce these facepieces. We don’t use any 3d printing techniques in any of the production of these fully customized facepieces.

Game-changing Innovation Takes Time: Our Time is coming (almost 2years into this project)

It all takes time, time to have an idea, time to design that idea, time to prototype and test everything, time to modify, change, rebuild and retest. So far, 18 months of time and energy. Now that we are this far in, I can see that a decision here, or there, made early on in the planning and design phase, between Gareth (my co-founder) and I, has had huge influence in what we do now.

Only time, and our customers, will tell if we made the right decisions or not.  All I can say is that I have the best team in the world working on this, because of several things. They are capable they care and they keep trying. They also happen to be hugely talented at what they do.

It’s allergy season here in Tennessee where I live. And, even if Co-vid was to magically disappear overnight, our mask would still help many sufferers who have a really hard time with pollen or at health risk for other airborne, organic particulates. If you need to breathe easier and like the idea of having a facepiece made just for you, then you might want to try one of our masks.

Please like us, follow us and support us as we get closer to launching our family of PersonalAIR masks (you can pre-order some models now!).  You can also find us on our official website: https://firstwave3d.com.

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