The world is in the middle of an epidemic of facial prostheses.
These devices, which resemble a human face, are used in some countries to treat facial disorders such as microfracture, facial paralysis and multiple sclerosis.
Now, a team at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, has developed a new device, the Afrofacial System, which looks and functions like the human face.
“The Afroface System is an ideal device for people who suffer from facial disorders, and for people with conditions like dysmorphic features,” lead researcher Elizabeth Koeppel, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering and director of the biomedical engineering department at Johns’ School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, said in a press release.
The Afrace System works by attaching a microfacial prosthesis to a patient’s skin, giving it a sense of movement.
The prosthesis is attached to the patient’s face with a flexible rubber band.
The band has a sensor that tracks a user’s gaze, and an electric motor that delivers force to the sensor.
The system can be worn as a mask or a headband, which allows the user to use the prosthesis for normal facial expressions, or even for performing everyday tasks.
“When a patient has facial prosthesis problems, the user often has to do a lot of tasks that require close and accurate eye contact,” Koeppel said.
“But when the user’s face is a mask, it’s difficult to see the expression on the face.
So, our AfroFace System allows the patient to have a mask on without feeling like he or she is doing things that are uncomfortable.
This device will allow the patient a better experience when he or her face is on a mask.”
For the research, Koepps team tested the Afraces System on volunteers in their first phase of clinical trials with the device.
“We designed the Afropas System to be simple and easy to use,” she said.
The researchers found that the device helped people who had microfaceted faces to see a lot more of the person in front of them.
“One participant reported that the mask made her more confident and in control,” Koespeck said.
The Afracial System also gave the users more time to practice with the mask on.
Koepps and her team hope the device can be adapted to be used for facial expressions and other activities.
“People are looking for a new solution for the expression they have and they’re looking for something that is simple and can be used anywhere,” Kroepps said.