The COVID-19 pandemic has driven creativity and innovation around the world, including at the Muskoka headquarters of Smart Safe Science (3S).
The company has launched two new products which take PPE to the next level of comfort and safety, while also being kind to the environment.
The products – the SmartShield and the SmartMask – have received Health Canada approval and are being produced at their Bracebridge facility. The products will be available at retail outlets in Muskoka, while 3S will also use distributors to service the nationwide market.
Chief Technology Officer Rick Struthers and Director of Operations Andrew Struthers were working with an engineering group on a variety of projects geared towards creating a new economy in Muskoka. Then COVID hit.
“We did a pivot and asked the question: what’s the best possible mask you can build?” recalls Rick. Creative design and manufacturing is nothing new for Rick: he is the founder of True North Printed Plastics, which makes keypads for hundreds of electronic devices ranging from medical equipment to Blackberries.
The team went to work and came up with masks that are clear, ultra lightweight, filter at a remarkably high level, and seal to a person’s face. Rick notes the masks have good air flow, making it much easier to breathe while wearing them. Thermal imaging of the masks in action shows that the mask also helps keep the wearer’s face cool.
“We have a high-density filter design,” explains Rick. “It’s pleated like your furnace filters and there is a recyclability aspect to it because you’ll just change out the filter tubes once a week to be ready for the next week rather than throw the whole mask out.”
Andrew is also developing a “Smart Stick” which will sit inside the mask to monitor temperature and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Detecting these trace elements of airborne hazards can be vital to protecting workers from more than just COVID.
“Being able to confirm the internal mask environment is safe from VOCs when present in a known hazardous environment is very important,” explains Andrew. “Detecting various chemicals in a manufacturing environment or workplace is essential to creating a safe space.”
Another equally important contribution of the data collection by the Smart Stick is monitoring temperature and respiratory rate. These are key trends in the general health of the wearer relative to viruses.
Once they were confident in their products, Rick and Andrew began discussions with Muskoka Futures regarding expanding their manufacturing capabilities. They only had the ability to produce 6,000 units daily, but funds secured through Muskoka Futures allowed them to purchase robotics to expand production to 30,000 units per day, as well as a sterilization line.
by: Chris Occhiuzzi of Dockside Publishing Inc.
Update: You can learn more and support the launch of 3S ProtXair masks on INDIEGOGO.