The pandemic has led to the rise of face mask fashion, with custom PPE being designed by Vistaprint, Makelab and virtually every clothing brand and custom design company. While masks are a crucial first step for people concerned about contracting Covid-19, they aren’t without their issues: Openings on the side allow air particles to escape or enter without filtration, and when not worn or fit correctly, can allow for transmission of the virus.
With this concern in mind, Toronto-based personal protective gear company Vyzr Technologies created a product called BioVyzr. It resembles the top half of a spacesuit, covering the head and shoulders and held in place with a chest strap. It’s not exactly fashionable, but it does provide more advanced protection for users in crowded areas such as commercial workspaces, schools and public transport.
And, according to Vyzr Technologies founder and CEO Yezin Al-Qaysi, the BioVyzr has two other major advantages over face masks.
“It’s designed to provide isolation from infection without the social distancing,” Al-Qaysi said. “Our users can still smile and interact with each other.”
The design completely seals in the wearer, and utilizes powered air-purifying technology to filter out pathogens, allergens and pollutants in air coming in and going back out. For comfort and visibility, it also includes a fan, anti-fogging face shelf, peripheral side windows and adjustable side straps.
The product is similar to one used in industrial and healthcare environments called powerful air purifying respirators (PAPR), which uses integrated head, face and eye protection to protect employees from workplace hazards. While the BioVyzr is not quite as efficient as PAPR, it does come at a much more accessible price point of $250, rather than $1,800.
“We took the concept of PAPR technology and packaged it in a way that is more comfortable and practical for people to use every day,” Al-Qaysi said.
The product launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo and almost immediately raised $400,000 with 50,000 preorders. The first round of production is underway now, with another round scheduled for next month. Interested customers include students going back to school, employees in dentist and doctor’s offices, workers in high-touch professions who interact with customers and travelers.
“A lot of lives are on hold right now, and we have no idea how long this is going to last,” Al-Qaysi said. “I’m hoping this product can allow users to safely begin to return to normalcy without risk of infection.”
Larger companies, including retailers eager to reopen stores after the months-long hiatus, are looking for ways to keep employees and customers safe. Vyzr Technologies is in early discussions with larger companies such as meatpacking facilities and film studios about the BioVyzr.
More robust PPE, according to Vyzr, will not just benefit people now—it may set a new standard of protection that could head off future disasters similar to the current pandemic.