Inspired by executive's daughter, Quebec company unveils low-cost masks with 'window' for mouth
MONTREAL -- Eyes may be called the window to the soul, but a Quebec manufacturer is adding a window of understanding to surgical masks for the hard of hearing.
Entreprise Premont has been producing millions of surgical masks every week, and it's set to ramp up its output with a new surgical mask that allows people to see the wearer’s mouth.
Various groups have been calling for low-cost see-through masks throughout the pandemic, but motivation to figure out how to mass-produce the product came from very close to home.
"One of my daughters has a hearing problem,” said company vice-president Luc Girard.
“When I [started] production with the regular face mask I always [would think] about something to help my daughter.”
Six months and $2 million later, the company has launched the Humask-Pro Vision, which it touts as revolutionary and a game changer for people with hearing difficulties.
“We hard-of-hearing people, we read lips,” said Jeanne Choquette of Audition Quebec, a not-for-profit advocacy group for people with hearing difficulties. “We need to read lips to compensate [for] our loss.”
The single-use masks are expected to cost $2 each. Currently about 2,000 are being produced weekly by Entreprise Premont—but production is set to grow exponentially over the next few weeks.
"I think, to start, we will achieve one million [produced weekly] and after that I think we will continue to grow,” said Girard.
He says he's already supplied some masks to schools, but he wants to team up with the province to supply hospitals.
Eventually, he says, the hope is these windowed masks will be used in other public spaces.
"When I go to do my groceries… the person wears a mask," so there's no way to tell what the cashier is saying, Choquette said. "This is very difficult for me."
The PPE business is going so well that Entreprise Premont is looking to hire, Girard added.