ASU students win $500,000 top prize in mask contest

ASU students win $500,000 top prize in mask contest
In the ASU Luminosity Lab team's bifurcated Floemask design, exhaled air is directed out the filter, rather than out of the top of the mask — preventing glasses from getting fogged up. (Source: ASU website)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Innovation at its finest. A team of Arizona State University students just won $500,000 for designing a new and improved face mask.

According to their website, the XPRIZE Next-Gen Mask Challenge “aims to reimagine protective face masks used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by making them more comfortable, functional, accessible, and even stylish.”

The contest drew nearly 1,000 entries from young innovators in more than 70 countries around the world.

ASU Luminosity Lab was one of the semifinalists in the contest.

“We were ecstatic. It was a pretty crazy feeling,” said Tarun Suresh, who was one of the winners.

Their mask design has separate pouches for your nose and mouth to prevent overheating and glasses from fogging up. The mask was also designed to lift up easily for eating and drinking.

On Tuesday, Dec. 22, the design took home the top prize.

The team is planning to put some of the money to put the mask into production, the rest will go back to ASU’s Luminosity Lab.

“We really want to use this money to push the masks forward, do whatever we can to help COVID-19, and get these masks in the hands of people,” said Katie Pascavis, another winner.

The money could help support other projects the lab has worked on like securing PPE and developing sanitation systems.

“No matter where this money goes within the Luminosity Lab, it’s going to help people especially during a pandemic,” Pascavis said.

Polair from John Hopkins University in Maryland and Naija Force from Abuja, Nigeria were named runners up in the competition and will split $500,000.

Read additional comments from the winning students on the ASU website.

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