‘Tis the season for the flu, and if the regular strain wasn’t bad enough, we have a new, porcine terror to contend with. These brightly patterned medical face masks, however, may ward off H1N1 and its brethren simply by virtue of being stylish—looking like Wacko Jacko in his latter days notwithstanding. Designed by Marjan Kooroshnia, a Swedish textile-design student, these face masks have a bonus feature: They’re printed with thermochromic ink that changes color with any uptick in breathing temperature.

Color-changing flu masks by Marjan Kooroshnia, wearable technology, smart textiles

EARLY WARNING SYSTEM

Inspired by the swine flu pandemic, Hoorshnia’s early warning systems—for other people, at least—span the design gamut, from the traditional medical mask to a rather fetching wrap-around scarf. In addition to full-face sinus masks that detect temperature increases around the forehead or mouth, Hoorshnia has also designed masks with patterns (such as flowers) that indicate the wearer’s allergies.

The masks are printed with thermochromic ink that changes color with any uptick in breathing temperature.

Kooroshnia, who focuses her research on smart textiles, is investigating how reactive, color-changing technologies for fabrics can not only serve as a form of visual communication, but also as a potential red flag to prevent contagious diseases from spreading. A person with a different colored mask, for instance, can be spotted easily and quarantined if necessary.

But the quirky masks can also be worn for fun, she notes. “Using different patterns for masks might be suitable for different people, from the aspect of beauty and color,” she says.

+ Marjan Kooroshnia

[Via Talk2MyShirt]