Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, is a major environment-related health threat, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO cites an estimated 1.3 million annual deaths worldwide that are attributable to urban outdoor air pollution. We’re written about health tech wearables that track air pollution, Wair’s neck garments that filter air, and mobile air quality sensors.

Cambridge Mask Company recently completed an Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for the Smart Cambridge Mask, scheduled to begin shipments in August 2017.  The company sells what it refers to as “standard masks” that filter air through three different filter layers. The first filter blocks dust and PM10. A second layer is a three-ply micro-particulate filter that blocks particles as small as PM2.5.  The mask’s third layer is made from 100% pure activated carbon cloth, originally developed by the U.K. Ministry of Defence. The carbon cloth layer is made of a series of activated carbon filaments 2,000 nanometers in diameter, 25 times smaller than standard carbon materials. This layer traps and kills bacteria by drawing out its cytoplasm, according to the company. The carbon layer also blocks viruses and endotoxins.

Add the Cambridge Smart Valve to the standard mask and it becomes a Smart Cambridge Mask. The Smart Valve adds sensors and low-energy Bluetooth wireless to track air pollution and user breathing data and transmits the data to an associated mobile app. The Cambridge Mask app tracks pollution by location, forecasts pollution, measures filter levels, tells you when to wear the mask, and links family profiles and masks. After a user enters height, weight, age, and gender, the app estimates lung capacity, checking against breathing patterns as measured by the SmartValve. This data also calculates filter expiration time and sets warning thresholds for mask alerts.

The combination of effective filters, active air quality sensors, and app-based algorithms to assess threat levels and alert users sounds like an extremely help civilian application of technology originally developed for military use.