Japan Manufacturer Creates Transparent Mask

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A transparent mask that shows the mouth

IGA, Mie — A company that manufactures traditional braided cords known as Iga kumihimo has developed a transparent mask aimed primarily at hearing impaired persons and sign language interpreters.

The Itogo company, in Iga, Mie Prefecture, released the masks on Friday. The president of the company said, “This mask is ideal for people whose job involves helping others who will feel uneasy if they can’t see that person’s whole face.”

The mask was invented by Itogo as a result of improvements to the machine used to make Iga cords. It measures 14 centimeters long and 18 centimeters wide.

Two soft, nearly transparent pieces of polyester organdy are sewn together in a bag shape. There are 30-micrometer gaps in the fabric that allow droplets to pass through, so an acrylic sheet that can also be used as a mouth shield is inserted between the pieces of organdy.

The acrylic sheet can be taken out for sterilization and reused, and the bands placed over the ears are adjustable. Although the mask does not incorporate the traditional Iga kumihimo, it utilizes the advanced sewing techniques that craftsman have developed.

Itogo donated 30 transparent masks at the end of last year to the Mie prefectural government, which provided advice and support for the project. The masks will be used by sign language interpreters at the prefecture’s deaf support center.

“In addition to hearing impaired people and sign language interpreters, we hope the mask will be increasingly used in pediatric wards, nursing care and customer service,” the president said.