Ford Motor Company announced that it is ramping up new initiatives to help protect people from COVID-19, including mask development.
Dearborn, Mich.-based Ford designed a patent-pending, clear respirator in the hopes of benefitting those with hearing impairments. It expects the respirator to certify to N95 standards of virus protection.
The transparent, low-cost, reusable respirators allow people to communicate better by seeing the full range of human expression, while those with hearing impairments would be better able to read lips that are blocked the standard personal protective equipment (PPE) seen today.
Testing for the transparent respirators to prove effectiveness is underway and continuing through the winter, with Ford expecting availability sometime in the spring.
“One of the things that’s missing during the pandemic is the power of a smile,” Ford VP, enterprise product line management and leader of the company’s Project Apollo PPE manufacturing effort Jim Baumbick said in the release. “This clear respirator promises to improve interactions between neighbors, at the store and for those who have hearing impairments.”
Ford also plans to increase awareness for the fight against the virus with Super Bowl advertising and new solutions including air filtration kits, while it intends to distribute more than 25 million free medical-grade masks over the next five weeks alone, according to a news release.
The company increased its total mask donation commitment to 120 million masks, an increase from 100 million, for communities and organizations with limited access to PPE.
“The data shows that we can save a lot of lives in the coming months by coming together as Americans and protecting each other. Our mission is to inspire people to stay safe. There is no bigger platform to do so than Super Bowl LV,” Ford president, Americas & international markets group Kumar Galhotra said. “Together with Ford Motor Company Fund, we’re also giving out more than 25 million medical-grade masks in some of the hardest-hit areas to make it easier for people to help protect each other.”