Air quality has become a serious problem in Hong Kong where asthma and respiratory infections have soared in recent years. What if you could use a comfortable and fashionable mask to protect yourself from pollution? This is exactly what the startup O2 Canada has developed – an airtight seal face mask that aims at effectively protecting you against pollution. We met with the company’s Co-founder and CEO, Peter Whitby at Velocity which is the largest free startup incubator entrepreneurship program at the University of Waterloo.
A Canadian face mask for the Hong Kong market
O2 Canada is a Canadian company that has developed a stylish and comfortable face mask that creates an airtight seal. After thorough testing at the Air Pollution Innovation Lab of Waterloo University the product is set to be sold on the Chinese market in January 2018.
Current surgical masks are ineffective
This new face mask may be a game changer for polluted cities in China where people often wear surgical masks that do very little against pollution. Surgical masks can filter the air for PM2.5 but they lack an airtight seal. Since air travels the path of least resistance, most of the air you breathe in with these standard surgical masks will still be polluted; the air will come in through the sides of the mask and not pass through the filter.
Key features of O2 Canada’s face mask
According to the company’s CEO Peter Whitby, the O2 Curve product is different from already available products in three aspects:
- Comfort: the two integrated exhaust valves make breathing through the mask much more comfortable than a regular face mask.
- Effectivity: the airtight seal that actually makes it effective.
- Customization: it is a more fashionable and expressive option than a regular surgical mask on your face. The outer shell can be interchanged with different designs and colors to match your mood or preferences.
In Canada where pollution isn’t a major public health concern, the mask is used after forest fires when lots of airborne particles pollute the air. In Hong Kong, the mask could be used during flu season, to protect yourself from the flu and/or during days when the air is highly polluted.
Currently, the mask can only be ordered online and shipped to Hong Kong. The mask comes with 3 filters and costs US$65. The filters can last up to 2 weeks, based on average usage, and a new set of filters costs US$5. With the O2 Canada app you can more accurately track your filter life and change it sooner or later to make the most out of it.
Learn more about O2 Canada’s face mask here.