There are myriad reasons for wearing a face mask. In China and parts of South East Asia, they're commonly used as protection against alarmingly poor air quality, while in Japan and elsewhere they help reduce the chance of catching airborne diseases such as flu. Helpful as they may be, they're not the most conducive to maintaining everyday social interactions. Designers Simone Rebaudengo and Paul Adams' Unmask is an experimental prototype that aims to change that by allowing wearers to show emotions through their masks.
Utilizing an Arduino board, an LED display, and other components, Unmask displays one of four emotional states: neutral, smiling, surprise and kiss. There are no plans to commercialize the mask for now -- it's part playful experiment, part social statement -- but the pair will continue to develop the idea, and aim to produce masks with smaller components and different materials in the future.