Is the Remote-Controlled Mask the Metal Straw of the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Most environmental panics have some sort of gimmicky product response. The coronavirus pandemic is no different.


Every environmental panic produces a flurry of gimmicky products meant to combat the problem while allowing people to continue living their normal lives with minimal disruption. Plastic pollution gave us the metal straw. Climate change birthed the Toyota Prius.

In the age of COVID-19, that gimmick might just be the remote-controlled mask. On Tuesday, Reuters released a truly disturbing video of Israeli entrepreneur Asaf Gitelis showing off his latest invention.

"The mask will be opened mechanically by hand remote or automatically when the fork is coming to the mask," Gitelis told Reuters. "Then you can eat, enjoy, drink and you take out the fork and it will be closed, and you're protected against the virus and other people sitting with you."

Reusable straws and hybrid cars both offered, at best, dubious environmental benefits for the problems they were intended to solve. The emissions reductions stemming from hybrid cars' improved fuel economy are largely offset by the extra energy required to produce them. Metal straws might reduce the consumption of the plastic variety, but the latter make up only a tiny, tiny fraction of overall plastic waste.

Similarly, it's an open question of how much added protection these remote-controlled masks will give diners. Obviously, any mask with a large opening in the middle is going to be less effective than one that doesn't have a huge gap. Video of the contraption appears to show an imperfect seal on the mouth hole even when it's closed.

Restaurants that have reopened are usually required to adopt social distancing protocols like spacing out tables, moving diners outside, and operating at reduced capacity. If those are effective measures, there's really no need to wear Gitelis's invention. If they're not, perhaps folks are better off not dining out at all.

On aesthetic grounds alone, the mask is a failure, as evidenced by some of the immediate reactions to it.

Vice describes it as "visually terrifying."

Watching someone eat is already pretty gross. Gitelis's mask makes public mastication even more disgusting by ensuring that anyone using his device will be shoveling food into an open, flapping exterior mouth. Fine dining etiquette this is not.

The new mask does tell us something about the trajectory of people's moods as the coronavirus lockdowns have gone on. Most everyone is sick of social distancing, while still being nervous about returning to public life. We want something—anything—that will allow us to go back to socializing in a world where coming down with COVID-19 is an ongoing concern. This is one attempt, however foolish and disturbing, at giving people that peace of mind.

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  1. It’s more like the Dunce Cap of the 21st Century.

    1. On the plus side, seeing people wear these abominations in public will allow you to easily tell who are easily frightened pussies with more money than sense are. I also suspect it may end up being popular with “Karens.”

      1. Mask closed: “whrs yre ;sdfcin gusk”
        Victim of verbal assault: “What, Karen?”
        Mask opened, spitting spittle: ” Where is your mask, moron!”

  2. Every environmental panic produces a flurry of gimmicky products meant to combat the problem while allowing people to continue living their normal lives with minimal disruption virtue signal to The Right Kind of People that they’re one of them.


  3. Does it come with a patented “Kick Me” sign that can be affixed to the back of one’s shirt?

  4. Di sisi positifnya, melihat orang mengenakan kekejian ini di depan umum akan memungkinkan Anda untuk dengan mudah memberi tahu siapa pussi yang mudah ketakutan dengan lebih banyak uang daripada yang masuk akal. Saya juga curiga akhirnya menjadi populer dengan “Karens.”

    saya setuju dengan anda

    1. They call them Karens in your country, too?

    2. Entendí “pussi yang mudah” y “Karens” pero nada más.

  5. no but it might be peak retard.

    1. Every time you reach the peak, a better retard comes along.

  6. Climate change birthed the Toyota Prius.

    Uh, no. It was pre-frack high gas prices and all the people who thought it was a global conspiracy by Big Oil that birthed the Prius.

    And the Prius wasn’t the first electric car.

  7. This is one attempt, however foolish and disturbing, at giving people that peace of mind.

    That gives me an idea. Duck and cover, but instead of nuclear war it’s novel coronaviruses. Restaurants, where you eat the food under the table.

    1. Well I’m a civilized human being and I prefer to drink myself under the table, thank you very much.

    2. hope they took this 2 months to get the gum off the table-top-bottoms

  8. This opens up great new possibilities for virtue signalling with my mask when people see I have organic Kale stuck to it instead of, say, crumbs from a trans-fat filled donut

  9. >>allowing people to continue living their normal lives

    would be people choosing to not wear any mask. and maybe spill something on that guy in the pic

  10. Prius cars run on smug, and there is a proliferation of smug in the 21st century, so they run practically for free in certain areas.

    I got my eye on one of those plug-in hybrid models….

    1. like with an RPG?

      1. +1D20

        Oh, you meant the other kind of RPG.

        1. 6th grade math teacher let us use box scores and dice to play baseball in his class i owned the league bc i used 1d12

  11. Or this guy wins the award for ‘most effective trolling of C19’ ?

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