Coronavirus: SF artist creates realistic-looking custom respirator masks that unlocks iPhones

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Saturday, February 22, 2020
Coronavirus: Custom respirator masks can unlock iPhone
A San Francisco artist and entrepreneur has come up with a concept called the "resting risk face" mask that could one day become reality.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- With people from all over the world searching for face masks to keep them protected from the Coronavirus, a San Francisco artist and entrepreneur has come up with a concept called the "resting risk face" mask that could one day become reality.

In a studio along Market Street, artist and entrepreneur Danielle Baskin shows me a bubble-wrapped package that, in all honestly, looks a bit creepy.

Inside, a prototype of a custom respirator mask that looks like me. Baskin owns several companies including a voice-only social media network and custom fruit-printing business. She, on a whim decided to make a website to test the concept.

"I didn't expect this to become a product that lots of people would want to order," says Baskin.

Within six days, it blew up to epic proportions.

"Within hours, I was retweeted thousands of times, there were articles about it, people loved it, they hated it, had mixed reactions on the internet about it," said Baskin.

Despite not being in production, there have been more than 50,000 hits on the Face-ID-Masks website and hundreds inquiries into purchasing the "resting mask face."

Baskin scrolls through her email and points out an email requesting 10,000 units and an inquiry from Shenzen China.

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In case you are wondering, yes, you can, once your phone is programmed to do so, unlock an iPhone with the mask on.

For those who accuse Baskin of trying to capitalize on the Coronavirus, she brings up a good point. There are actually a lot of uses for custom face masks like this.

"Dentists, people who work in hospitals say that kids are disoriented when they wake up from surgery and they see covered faces," she said. Baskin also brings up the fact wildfires happen every year.

But because of a shortage of materials worldwide so severe, the World Health Organization is warning dentists in the United Kingdom may have to cut back clinical hours.

Baskin wants to be ethically responsible. "I think right now as the virus is spreading, the mask will be in higher and higher demand and I don't want to create this novelty designer product during that time."

But perhaps one day if she can figure out the kinks, her product and other types of respirator masks can become more socially acceptable, like in Asia.

"Even if it's not a face, and something like it could make people more likely to wear one which would potentially be better for public health."

If the masks were to become a reality, she'd like to scale operations enough to where the cost could be as low as a few dollars per mask.

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