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ASU student team semifinalists of $1 million COVID mask design challenge

(ASU Luminosity Lab team photo)

PHOENIX — Arizona State University announced on Monday that a team of students is a top-10 semifinalist in the $1 million XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge.

The ASU Luminosity Lab team was tasked with the objective of building a mask that would better prevent the spread of COVID-19, while also making them more comfortable, functional, affordable and stylish.

The team will compete in the public-vote part of the competition until Wednesday, with the top five advancing to the final round and winners to be announced in February.

Almost 1,000 entries were submitted from participants age 15-24 from over 70 countries.

Led by undergraduate student Nikhil Dave, the team’s bifurcated chamber design keeps exhaled air from the nose in a separate chamber from the face and mouth.

“This means that your face stays cooler, the air you breathe in is fresher and the flow of air stays away from glasses where it would otherwise cause fogging,” he said in a press release.

“The separate chamber design also improves surface area, making it easier to breathe through the mask than other existing mask designs.

Dave added that the mesh layer on the outside allows for the wearer to design custom color and fabric pattern.

Starting in the semifinals round, industry leaders 3M and Honeywell will develop prototypes of the top 10 mask designs.

In the final round of the competition, a panel of judges and experts will crown a victor and two additional teams, which will split a $1 million prize purse.

Winners will also be put in contact with manufacturers in the U.S. to quickly begin production of their new mask designs.

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