This Dust Mask Allows People To Express Emotions Even Though It Covers Half Their Faces

"Unmask your emotion."

Back in October, China's capital Beijing was forced to raise its smog alert from yellow to orange, the second highest possible level. 

With air pollution becoming one of the most common problems in the world's major cities, wearing dust masks and respirators has become a necessity, rather than a choice. But what are these masks doing to our social lives?

Shanghai-based interaction designer Simone Rebaudengo claims it's impossible to "read someone else's facial reaction," have a normal conversation or simply exchange a smile when you can barely see the person's face through the mask.

Together with his colleague Paul Adams, Rebaudengo created a fictional product that might fill the emotional gap caused by dust masks.

People wear these masks for a variety of reasons. Rebaudengo offers Japan as an example. There, dust masks are worn due to the "fear of passing flu to others and pure shyness of girls to hide the late day make up."

"In both scenarios it's not too far off that wearing a mask could become a daily and normal thing, whether for an ecological or a social dystopian evolution and if you ever would wear one, you soon realise that it changes the way you interact with people and the environment around us," Rebaudengo writes.

UnMask "allows to read your facial expressions and unmask your 'emotion' hidden underneath."

The LED matrix detects up to four different facial expressions: plain, smile, surprise and kiss, designboom reports.

Although UnMask is just a spoof product, both designers refer to it as a "hypothetical tool for a non-hypothetical future." Could it be?

To see more of Rebaudengo 's designs, please visit his website and follow him on Twitter.

(H/T: designboom)

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