timeline

October-December 2020

details

Branding, 3D Rendering & Animation, Web Design, UX/UI

tools

Figma, Maya, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Dimension

TEAM

Benya Sutyanyong (me), Jasper Tu, Jessica Dou, Maria Guna

Kumo Smart Mask

Sparked by the pandemic, my team members and I designed Kumo, a smart mask with changeable, customizable filters and features to help facilitate regular mask-wearing and give people a sense of control over their exposure to airborne particles.

For organization sake, you can view work on the Kumo app on a separate page.

See Kumo App

Masks are effective and important everyday tools.

1 in 5 Canadians (6 million adults and children) live with
a respiratory problem.

An early mask mandate in one city reduced COVID spread by 40% vs. the rest of Germany.

91% of people live in pollution, creating new respiratory issues or worsening existing ones.

Triggers can worsen symptoms of flare-ups by 30x for people with respiratory challenges.

But current options force people into trade-offs.

While effective, humidity inside airtight N95 masks can be uncomfortable or dangerous for those with respiratory challenges.

Medical masks aren’t reusable, making them costly for users and harmful to the environment.

Because fabric isn't airtight,
cloth masks rely on everyone else around you to also wear a mask.

How might we create a mask that is effective for everyday use without compromising comfort or safety?

Soft and Airy Fit

Malleable silicone edges are easy to clean and mold to a variety of face shapes. A domed structure ensures the mask does not rest against the nose or mouth.

Layered Filter System

Filters are contained within two mask shells, which can be disassembled for easy cleaning. Kumo offers a debris filter, virus filter, and pollen filter.

Customizable straps

Users can choose between classic over-ear, single band, and adjustable buckle straps depending on their needs.


Colours and sizes

The Kumo mask is available in black, grey, or white and in sizes S, M, and L to suit the whole family.


A User-First Approach

Kumo began through the identification of existing issues and converting them into actionable features. One of the main goals was to make a mask that would encourage and support mask-wearing as a regular activity even post-pandemic.

A table displays several issues with existing masks on the rightmost column. As the table moves left, the problems are converted into questions, then possible features in the subsequent columns.

Creating the Kumo Brand

Mood boards

We started the process by establishing different mood boards to represent possible personalities. Here, we aimed to broaden our thinking by not only gathering inspiration from products in a similar niche, but also thinking of ways people might not expect a lifestyle/medical device to be marketed. The result was three distilled identities.

Final Design System

After setting the tone for Kumo's visual and interface personality, we created a cohesive design system that could be applied across multiple collateral. Colours were designed with readable contrast in mind.

A type system shows the font, weight, and spacing for different headings and body text. Next to it, a vibrant and colourful primary colour palette and muted blue secondary colour palette are displayed. Below, the Kumo logo is displayed next to the tagline, "Empowering a safe breathing experience." The brand values of simple, friendly, reliable, inclusive, and innovative are listed next to that.

My Contributions

In addition to research, I took on a lead role in creating the brand, designing the physical interaction of the mask, and content writing. I came up with the name "Kumo", meaning cloud in Japanese, based on our goal to create a mask that was more a friendly assistant than a medical device. As I also did the 3D renders of our physical mask, I was responsible for fine-tuning much of the details on where and how features were used.

Various sketches of possible Kumo logos using the full word "Kumo". Some sketches show the m being shaped as a cloud.

After deciding on the name Kumo, I created some iterations of a possible logo. Although we ended up using our chosen typeface, the cloud logo and motif became a recurring piece.

Sketches of possible ways the mask can be assembled and customized, including various layers, detachable straps, and a soft nose piece.

From my research, I devised the layered system with two mask shells that became our final model. I also drafted instructions on how to use and clean the mask.

A screen capture of the Maya workspace showing the render of the mask.

Kumo Website

Kumo Packaging

The outer package box of a Kumo Smart Mask. Three boxes are lined up side by side, showing boxes for the white, grey, and black masks.A white box with a grey Kumo mask on the front. Another box is shown behind it from the back. The back of the box is the same grey as the mask, and lists the main features.An information pamphlet about Kumo which details how to activate, pair, charge, and wash the Kumo mask. The main features of the app are also listed.

Reflections

A lifestyle, not medical device

Much of our early product ideation centred around Kumo being able to provide diagnoses based on collected data. We even had an emergency contact alert feature. But while performing competitive analysis, we discovered very distinct differences in marketing, regulation, and features between health and wellness devices (e.g. Fitbit) and medical devices (e.g. inhalers). From this, we made our device goal more general to include everyday mask wearing rather than medical crisis prevention.

You know, I'm something of an industrial designer myself (?)

Upon approaching this project, I expected to have to iterate on different forms and ways to assemble the mask. What I did not expect was the amount of research we ended up putting into other aspects such as filtration technologies, materials, and batteries. Nonetheless, I'm glad that we did so much initial research, as it provided a good foundation to extrapolate what could be possible for a smart mask in the future.

Wanna chat? Send me an email at benya@sutyanyong.com.

© Benya Sutyanyong 2021