(CNN) Ford Motor Company is best known for its cars, but in the Covid-19 pandemic, the manufacturer is branching out.
Ford has received patent-pending approval for a new, clear respirator mask, the company announced Tuesday, one they expect to work just as well as an N95.
“One of the things that’s missing during the pandemic is the power of a smile,” said Jim Baumbick, a vice president at Ford, in a statement. “This clear respirator promises to improve interactions between neighbors, at the store and for those who have hearing impairments.”
For the hearing-impaired, face masks both hide the lips and muffle the speaker’s voice. The transparent respirators will allow for better communication, Ford said.
“The covered masks cut down the volume level by 10 decibels,” Dr. Sheri Mello, an audiologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, told CNN last May. “And that’s a lot. You’re cutting a quarter of the volume.”
At the same time, N95 masks are considered the best masks to use in the pandemic, as they filter out 95% of particles. Some experts have even called for a nationwide rollout of the masks, but there’s been a supply shortage, making them difficult for non-health care professionals to obtain.
The company is currently testing the product and hopes the respirators will be available this spring.
By Leah Asmelash