An artist’s idea to print the bottom half of the face on surgical masks so wearers can still use Face ID has become an online hit.
San Francisco-based artist Danielle Baskin came up with the idea after a recent conversation with friends highlighted the issue of facial recognition while wearing masks, reports the Daily Dot.
Since Baskin currently has multiple companies that specialize in printing on curved surfaces, it did not take long for her idea to become an actual product. A website for Face ID compatible respirator masks was launched just a few hours after the idea came to Baskin.
As soon as she shared the link to her new site on Twitter, she was immediately bombarded with orders.
“The product is becoming viral, unfortunately,” she was quoted as saying. “Even though the website clearly reads as dystopian late-stage capitalism, over 100 people asked to be on the waitlist to get a mask when the product launches.”
Despite the growing demand for the printed masks, Baskin has yet to begin production as several factors are holding her back.
Baskin explains that the printing process requires some tweaking to be able to achieve a realistic look for the masks.
Since the masks should also work as intended, tests must be done to ensure the prints can be recognized by the facial recognition technologies used in numerous modern phones. This could be a challenge since new security mechanisms are regularly put into place by companies to ensure face locks are not easily bypassed.
Baskin notes that one way to make it work is by wearing the mask while setting up the phone’s Face ID feature.
In addition to these issues, the main reason Baskin’s masks aren’t being made is due to the global shortage of masks.
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak spreading to over two dozen countries and infecting tens of thousands of people, the supply of masks has dwindled worldwide. But while Baskin has yet to set a launch date for the masks, she has at least laid the groundwork for her project.
When the time comes, users will then be able to upload an image of their face on Baskin’s website. Users can also make adjustments on the image using the company’s web app. The photos will then be printed onto N95 masks with non-toxic, natural dyes. The mask’s elastic band will also be printed on with a color that matches a buyer’s skin tone.
Baskin is still ironing out some facets of her new business prior to launch but she has already promised that she will not be storing users’ photos once the mask has been made.