American medical supply company ClearMask developed the coverings, which go by the same name. The Baltimore, Maryland-based company is made up of Johns Hopkins University graduate students and alumni. The masks were in development in 2017, well before the coronavirus pandemic.
The medical-grade versions of the masks received 510(k) clearances from the FDA in April, meaning they were approved before going on the commercial market.
The mask provides a transparent window that allows people to see the mouths of those wearing it, including when they smile or laugh, which the company says helps improve communication.
“After three years of research, development, and testing, we are thrilled to bring a human-centered mask to everyone who needs it, especially those who can benefit from improved visual communication, such as children, older adults, deaf and hard of hearing people, and those who do not speak the same language,” Allysa Dittmar, President of ClearMask, said in a statement. “The ClearMask™ is well-positioned to join the fight against the current pandemic.”