Shade

Face Shield for Office Workers

Project Brief

Design a product for the COVID 19 crisis

Spring 2020

Problem Space

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Amidst the COVID-19 epidemic, office workers of South Korea have generally not been permitted to work remotely. This has encouraged both the workers and the company to implement policies and rules to minimize the risk of infection and spread. 

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Elevators, telephones, and most touch surfaces have copper-infused films plastered over, and cafeterias have transparent dividers, to prevent liquid particles coming out of the mouth from contacting those sitting opposite.

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Knowing how difficult it is to breathe through masks, I looked into face shields worn by industrial kitchen workers, and medical workers that prevent larger liquid particles from going airborne.

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But face shields can be heavy, and when worn for hours without pause, can cause painful sores around the forehead and the bridge of the nose. Since it is imperative that people wear their mask and do not take them off until hands are fully sanitized, it is important that the face shield is comfortable enough to wear throughout the day.

Interviews

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I was able to interview 3 corporate office workers in South Korea, to understand true difficulties they are facing with the current safety measurements.

Key takeaways:

  • Must have masks on at all times in public spaces (ie. hallways, meeting rooms, restrooms, etc)

  • Most people pull their masks down when sitting alone in their office space. (Difficult to breathe through)

  • Masks are often pulled completely off during phone calls. (The receiving end may have difficulty hearing the muffled voice)

  • Culture of wearing masks as preventive measure. (Those who don’t wear them are given mean looks and sometimes even scolded)

  • Glasses fog up

  • Mouth odor can be dreadful — especially for smokers

  • In Korea, the color white signifies death. There is an element of fear when looking at crowds of people wearing white masks.

Person with hearing impairment expresses the challenge in communicating with people when listening to people with their faces covered. Being able to read their facial expression and lips is critical for effective communication.

The opaque masks that people wear are not just affecting people with hearing loss, but everyone else. The muffled voice hinders proper verbal communication, and the hidden face behind the mask has reduced our ability to communicate from physical + verbal to purely verbal. 

Form Study

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For initial form studies, I experimented with shields with exposed nose, allowing it easier to breathe, thus encouraging users to keep them on at all times. I also opted for a translucent mask, knowing how vital it is to be able to see each other's face when communicating. 

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I further refined the form, and decided to cover the nose, but also make air intakes on the nose bridge of the frame, to allow fresh air to enter. The shield is also extended all the way down and below the chin and band now wraps around the lower back of the head instead of the ears for greater comfort.

But what is 6 feet? How can I encourage people to social distance within a cramp office space? These questions led me to implement an alert system into the frame itself, encouraging people to distance themselves, if not be aware of their close proximity.

Final Product

The Shade is a protective face gear, made of stamped aluminum frame with translucent shield that covers both the nose and the mouth. The three intake holes in the frame is designed to allow greater airflow to ease breathing. The head bad goes around the neck and lower part of the head to prevent painful sores around the ear. 

The frame houses a proximity sensor and proximity indicator lights on either side, which glows from green to red as based on the proximity of two Shades.