As we enter day 2,567,892 of lockdown (or so it feels) many of us are craving some of life's simple pleasures, such as eating out in a nice restaurant. Hospitality companies are hard at work trying to figure out ways to get punters safely back in the building, but at what cost? One Israeli inventor has presented to the world his solution – a Pac-man-like face mask fresh out of your nightmares.
The mask has been developed using a squeeze lever, a bit like that used to operate a bicycle’s handbrake, which causes the protective cover to flap open in a manner comparable to a dystopian Zippy after his mouth has been harvested for precious metals.
“The mask will be opened mechanically by hand remote or automatically when the fork is coming to the mask,” Asaf Gitelis, vice president of Avtipus Patents and Inventions, said of the invention as he demonstrated the device at its offices near Tel Aviv according to a report from Reuters. “Then you can eat, enjoy, drink and you take out the fork and it will be closed, and you’re protected against the virus and other people sitting with you.”
Mass production of the cursed item is said to begin in the coming months and, before you go thinking of developing your own cake-hole-guillotine, the team has already submitted a patent. Fortunately, this fever dream comes at a reasonable price as its been forecasted that the inventive masks will only set you back around $0.85 to $2.85 more than a conventional medical mask.
The creation comes just in time for Israel, which has largely reopened its economy in light of a significant drop in cases of Covid-19. While restaurants are currently still only open for takeout it seems their reopening in the “new normal” could be imminent. So are levered flapping masks the answer to returning to the ambiance of restaurant dining?
"While I love the idea of restaurants opening as soon as possible, there's more to eating out than the food," Jon Hatchman, Food Editor for The London Economic, told IFLScience. "I respect the idea and can't wait to be able to visit my favourite restaurants again, but only when it's considered safe for staff and diners to do so and we're able to enjoy the experience without the aid of motor mouths."
Okay, so maybe they're not quite aesthetic but will they keep us safe?
"The addition of a mechanical flap certainly negates the utility of the mask when open," said Dr Dominic Sparkes, an infectious diseases specialist at Addenbrooke's Hospital, England, speaking to IFLScience. "As you open the mask to eat it is very likely to shed the virus if you are infectious. The other important consideration is that these masks lose their effect when wet, which is very likely to occur if you are trying to eat through it."
In short, if a flapping face mask is your next must-have accessory just keep in mind that it will only be effective when eating crackers while free from disease.