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Octo Safety Devices Semi-Finalist Bard Mask Innovation Challenge

BARDA Mask Innovation Challenge: OCTO® Safety Devices Selected as Semi-Finalist

OCTO® Safety Devices has been selected as a semi-finalist in the BARDA Mask Innovation Challenge, from a pool of over 1,500 submissions.

To support the mass development of mask designs that meet stringent, pre-defined performance standards and provide increased comfort and durability for the average consumer, United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in collaboration with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), partnered together to create the Mask Innovation Challenge: Building Tomorrow’s Mask.  

The last year revealed the benefits of preventative mask-wearing to maintain health in the presence of a risk of airborne pathogens. Unfortunately, the challenges of mask wear were also highlighted, including contact dermatitis with prolonged wear, fogging of eyeglasses, reduced speech intelligibility, and sizing/fit issues. In addition, some currently available masks touted claims unsupported by scientific evidence, causing market confusion, and ultimately, distrust—leading to an urgent need to develop better designs, materials, and technology. 

"We know that properly and consistently worn face masks help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, but many people are reluctant to wear them for a variety of reasons," said Nikki Bratcher-Bowman, the acting assistant secretary for preparedness and response at HHS. "With this mask challenge, we want to get people across the country involved in developing new masks that are both effective and comfortable. This will help us control COVID-19 and be better prepared for future public health emergencies."  

To address these issues, the Mask Innovation Challenge: Building Tomorrow’s Mask invited mask designers to submit a product that improves comfort and utility of daily mask wear while also providing protective capabilities against respiratory pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. The masks are being judged by filtration efficiency, inhalation airflow resistance, fit and other test methods depending on the design. 

OCTO® Safety Devices ORM2 Respirator Mask Selected for Semi-Finals 

The ORM2 was initially conceptualized and developed prior to the pandemic for individuals working in jobs where toxic or contaminated air is present, such as construction, industry, manufacturing, healthcare, etc. OCTO Safety Devices’ founders Natasha Duwin and Tobias Franoszek began their journey to create the most effective elastomeric respirator mask possible several years before the emergence of COVID-19. 

They were spurred to action when they encountered the federal government’s 2009 B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Report, which urges 28 specific recommendations to improve respirator masks, and they realized that mask manufacturers had hardly incorporated any of them into their products. They set about designing a device that would address these recommendations, and the OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) is the result of their efforts. Offering true bi-directional protection to keep both the wearer and those around them safe, OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) also provides active protection by killing pathogens on contact with advanced silver-bonded filter material. With easy disinfection and sterilization, OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM) is designed for long-term use and shelf life, it surpasses N95 standards and it is simple and robust, thereby offering few potential points of failure. 

“Most face masks and respirator masks on the market lack sophistication in terms of providing true protection, practicality, comfort and longevity of use,” said Franoszek. “Everyone deserves access to clean air and we’re driven to produce a high-quality solution that negates existing challenges and provides optimal protection for all.” 

Upon debuting OCTO® Respirator Mask (ORM), the company immediately sold out its inventory, shipping masks to essential workers all over the world. OCTO Safety Devices aims to introduce their next-generation device, the ORM2, before the end of 2021. 

To learn more about the critical differentiators of OCTO Safety Devices’ ORM, view “The Octo 8.” video.