Some people dislike the way masks obscure our facial expressions, making it harder to read each other’s body language. Others revel in it, enjoying the anonymity face coverings can offer. If you’re in the latter group, a new full-face mask called Blanc will give you all the privacy (and protection from aerosols) you crave, and you’ll look like a character from a sci-fi movie to boot.
Is it a bit extreme? Uh, yeah. Blanc covers every part of your face, including your eyes. The result is a little unnerving, especially if you imagine legions of people walking down the street looking like faceless robots. But the mask is designed to protect you from both contagious diseases and the prying eyes of surveillance cameras. The creators figure if we’re going to cover our faces, we might as well go all the way.
Designed by a team of engineers, product designers, and entrepreneurs, the Blanc mask consists of two vertical symmetrical parts that divide along the center line. Its hard plastic outer shell includes interchangeable opaque panels in black or white, clipped to the frame and held in place by magnets. But more important is what’s behind the facade: two replaceable HEPA filters that purify the air as you breathe in and out, offering a minimum efficiency of 95 percent.
The inner layer of the mask that’s up against your skin is designed to be ergonomic, molding itself to your features and creating a 180-degree airtight seal. And since the coronavirus can be transmitted through contact with the eyes, full-face coverage does provide a little extra peace of mind. Blanc’s creators describe it as walking around “in a bubble of fresh air,” no matter where you go. And clearly, you’re not going to have a problem with absent-mindedly touching your face and eyes.
An official description for the mask reads: “In a world where privacy is increasingly invaded, both online and out in the real world, you need a way to keep your identity off-grid. Away from face-recognition cameras and nosy onlookers. A way to protect your privacy and allow you to regain control of your visual identity, emotions, and expressions. With Blanc’s full-facial opaque protection, you decide when, where, and with whom you share your personal facial information.”
“The anonymous hero. Or the secret villain. Everyone wants to know who the man behind the mask is. Be bold, shroud yourself in mystery, and show the world you don’t follow the status quo. Whether you are taking a subway to work, on a long flight, or going out to a cyber-punk underground party with friends — regardless of what you’re doing, you can rest assured that Blanc is kept firmly in place.”
There’s no question that a mask this out-there is going to protect you better than a loose piece of cloth draped across your face, which probably isn’t fitted properly to your features to begin with. But do people actually want to wear these things? The answer, judging by the Blanc mask’s successful Kickstarter campaign, is evidently “yes.” The crowdfunding campaign blew past its goal of $20,000 within hours of launching. Backers will get a Blanc mask, extra front panel, and two HEPA filters for a pledge of $89 USD or more, with initial orders set to ship in March.