Apple Inc. has developed masks that the company is beginning to distribute to corporate and retail employees to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The Apple Face Mask is the first created in-house by the Cupertino, California-technology giant for its staff. The other, called ClearMask, was sourced elsewhere. Apple previously made a different face shield for medical workers and distributed millions of other masks across the health-care sector.
Apple told staff that the Face Mask was developed by the Engineering and Industrial Design teams, the same groups that work on devices such as the iPhone and iPad. It is made up of three layers to filter incoming and outgoing particles. It can be washed and reused as many as five times, the company told employees.
In typical Apple style, the mask looks unique with large coverings on the top and bottom for the wearer’s nose and chin. It also has adjustable strings to fit around a person’s ears.
The company, which confirmed the news, said it conducted careful research and testing to find the right materials to filter the air properly while not disrupting the supply of medical personal protective equipment. Apple will start sending the Apple Face Mask to staff over the next two weeks.
The other model, the ClearMask, is the first FDA-cleared surgical mask that is completely transparent, Apple told employees. It shows the full face so people who are deaf or hard of hearing can better understand what the wearer is saying.
Apple worked with Washington-based Gallaudet University, which specializes in educating deaf and hard-of-hearing students, to choose which clear mask to use. The company also tested it with employees in three Apple stores. Apple is also exploring its own transparent mask options.
Before designing its own masks, Apple provided employees with standard cloth masks. It also offers basic surgical masks to customers visiting its retail stores. — Bloomberg