URI students invent new medical-technology mask to better combat COVID

KINGSTON, R.I. (WLNE) – Top health leaders around the world continue to stress that face masks are the best defense against the spread of the coronavirus. A group of students at the University of Rhode Island are taking that advice a step further in hopes of saving lives.

When the United States went into lockdown back in March, a group of students from URI were sent home. Those students continued their work though.

Vignesh Ravichandran is an electrical engineering grad student and is just one of eight students from five different majors who put their minds to work coming up with a new mask, the Smart Mask.

“We wanted to come up with a system monitoring way to do it on a mask” said Vignesh.

The Resp-Detect Mask uses a respiration sensor, a throat microphone, and temperature system to wirelessly track a person’s symptoms through an app. This information can then be used to see if someone has contracted the virus.

Kunal Mankodiya, an Associate Professor of Bio-Medical Engineering is overseeing the project. He says the students involved put their particular skills to the test and succeeded.

“We had mechanical, computer, textile engineering they all came together remotely and did a lot of brainstorming together” said Kunal.

It’s an invention Vingesh hopes someday can save lives, because for him, COVID-19 hit too close to home.

“Personally, I’ve had quite a few family members pass due to COVID.”

The group’s invention came in third place in a competition over the summer out of thousands of entries from all around the world. They are entering another international competition in October.

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