This futuristic 3D-printed mask can respond to your facial expressions with flowing liquid, making it almost feel alive.
The "emotional mask" is based on a master's thesis project made by Sirou Peng, Adi Meyer, and Silvia Rueda, and made with soft electronics, silicone and colored liquid. The mask can "read" facial expressions – ranging from smiles to the gnashing of teeth and frowning – and show the wearer's feelings by injecting or extracting liquid inside.
Firstly, a 3D model of the wearer's head is built out of the many pictures taken by camera. Once they have a model of the head, developers can design the shape of the mask and inflation pattern on their computers. Molds of the mask are ready to be printed after this step.
According to developers, each mask consists of two layers, a base layer and the pattern layer, and each layer requires two molds. During the casting process, developers use stiff silicone for the base layer and soft silicone for the pattern layer.
After that, a muscle sensor is used to detect facial movements. Once the mask senses the wearer's emotions, a water pump or air pump will be activated to make the colored liquid flow in different patterns.
And the last step is, of course, wearing the mask to amaze – or scare – the world.
TechCrunch reported the team used Harvard's Soft Robotics Toolkit for this project, which is a collection of shared resources to support the design, fabrication, modeling, characterization, and control of soft robotic devices.
An open source fluidic control board is part of the toolkit, which includes a detailed design documentation that describes a wide range of soft robotic components, including actuators, sensors and related files that can be downloaded and used in the design, manufacture, and operation of soft robots, according to the toolkit's official website.