Designed to encourage safer mask practice while bringing peace of mind to the public, Insignia’s smart label changes colour to indicate when a disposable face mask has reached the end of its recommended lifespan or when a re-usable mask requires to be changed.

As Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the UK, face masks are now part of everyday life, with requirements in place for people to wear them in public spaces including on airlines, in supermarkets and hospitals. However, little attention has been given to whether people are changing their masks regularly enough.

Whilst the recommended maximum time to wear a mask is dependent upon a number of factors, The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has published its recommendation - typically between 4 to 6 hours - alongside recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE).

Manufacturers of face masks and other forms of PPE are required by law to ensure that their products meet the requirements of PPE regulation, the Medical Device Directive or both. Insignia’s technology is a crucial way for manufacturers and suppliers of face masks to ensure that users of their masks can see when their mask is losing effectiveness and needs to be changed.

Founded in 2012, Insignia Technologies’ smart labels are traditionally used across the food and drink sector. With an estimated 18 million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill in the UK each year, Insignia set out on a mission to reduce food waste by developing a label that uses smart pigment technology to change colour over time to show how long a packet of food has been open.

When Covid-19 hit the UK, Insignia’s team of scientists redeveloped its label technology so that it could be suitable for application on face masks.

Dr Graham Skinner, Product Development Manager at Insignia Technologies, said: “We modified our labels so that they fit the recommended time frames given for effective mask use. The label sits on the outside of the face mask and changes colour to indicate when the end of the recommended time has been reached, providing an easy to use visual reminder and marker of reassurance.”

David Kilshaw, CEO of Insignia Technologies, said: “We want to educate mask users of the importance of following recommended guidelines when it comes to face masks. Manufacturers and suppliers of face masks face a difficult challenge of ensuring that users are aware of the guidelines. By including our innovative label technology on their masks, they can ensure that the PPE they make and supply is being used responsibly and isn’t being worn for too long, or thrown away too quickly.”

Insignia Technologies’ labels are very versatile, making them suitable for a range of different markets. As well as adapting its colour changing labels for use on face masks, Insignia has also modified a version of the label intended for use within the medical and healthcare sector. With many medical instruments and devices, such as endoscopes, requiring replacement after a defined timeframe, the technology helps by monitoring this timeframe, allowing staff to observe, check and replace a medical instrument or device appropriately. The label can ensure the safe use of medical devices, while helping to prevent infection.

Insignia prides itself on the simplicity of its product in comparison to others, which can have complex activation steps and can be costly to implement.