As thescientistformerlyknownas Naegeli notes in his write-up, “Smile, they say, and the world smiles with you — unless you’re wearing a mask.” It’s an interesting conundrum, given how many of us are wearing face coverings these days. Naegeli, however, has an interesting solution in the form of a small Arduino-powered screen that scrolls through text and clips directly to one’s mask.
The device is quite easy to build using an Arduino Pro Mini, a 128x32 I2C OLED display, and a charger/LiPo for power. The Pro Mini should provide for a long run time given its lack of an onboard USB to serial converter, and the whole thing weighs only 15 grams in total. Components clip on to the mask itself with stiff bent wires, meaning you can swap the assembly out as needed very easily. The program is explained in the video below, and you’ll of course need a USB-RS232 adapter to transfer code.
As of now, the unit scrolls through a set text output, but one could see this concept expanded further for interactive features. Perhaps a hidden button to switch between messages could be added, or an accelerometer to allow it to respond to nods or head shakes. Another neat feature of this setup is that when the need for masks is (hopefully) minimized in the future, it can easily be converted into a tie clip!