Colour changing ‘smart labels’ will ensure face masks keep people safe in stores

smart face masksTechnology that will alert users to the need to replace their face mask has been unveiled by smart packaging company, Insignia Technologies. 

Designed to encourage safer mask practice while bringing peace of mind to the public, Insignia’s smart label changes colour to indicate when disposable face masks have reached the end of its recommended lifespan or when a re-usable mask requires to be changed.

As COVID-19 cases rise in the UK, face masks are now part of everyday life, with requirements in place for people to wear them in public spaces including supermarkets, public transport, airlines and beauty salons. However, little attention has been given to whether people are changing their masks regularly enough.

Whilst the recommended maximum time to wear a mask is dependent upon a number of factors, The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has published its recommendation – typically between 4 to 6 hours – alongside recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE).

Face coverings have been made mandatory in UK supermarkets and retail stores in recent months and for many, the act of wearing a mask has become the norm. However, as  coronavirus cases continue to climb in the UK, it is crucial that both retail workers and customers are following safe mask practice by changing their masks regularly.

With no strict regulations in place to ensure that mask wearers are consistently changing their face coverings, Insignia’s label solution intends to create an additional level of reassurance to both retail staff and customers, helping to ensure everyone’s continued safety.

Founded in 2012, Insignia Technologies’ smart labels are used across the food and drink sector. With an estimated 18 million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill in the UK each year, Insignia set out on a mission to reduce food waste by developing a label that uses smart pigment technology to change colour over time to show how long a packet of food has been open.

When COVID-19 hit the UK, Insignia’s team of scientists redeveloped its smart label technology so that it could be suitable for application on face masks.

Dr Graham Skinner, product development manager at Insignia Technologies, said: “We modified our labels so that they fit the recommended time frames given for effective mask use. The label sits on the outside of the face mask and changes colour to indicate when the end of the recommended time has been reached, providing an easy to use visual reminder and marker of reassurance.”

David Kilshaw, CEO of Insignia Technologies, said: “We want to educate mask users of the importance of following recommended guidelines when it comes to face masks. Those working in retail, such as supermarket workers and shop workers, are required to wear masks at all times during their shifts, so it’s important that they remember to change their masks regularly in accordance with the suggested timeframe. By including our innovative label technology on masks, we can ensure that PPE is being used responsibly and isn’t being worn for too long, or thrown away too quickly.”

Insignia Technologies’ labels are very versatile, enabling the design to be easily changed without affecting the functionality of the product. The labels are automatically activated when removed from the packaging so can be easily utilised in a range of markets. Insignia prides itself on the simplicity of its product in comparison to others, which can have complex activation steps and can be costly to implement.