Masks Tested

Testing was done without a mask on, referred to as "no mask". Then, the following masks were put on and tested.

Blue Surgical - often provided for free at many businesses.

Fitted N95 - this one has a fancy NIOSH rating.

Cotton Bandana - everyone probably has some of these kicking around.

Fashion Mask - capitalism's answer to a pandemic.

Run Log

We put together a simple test plan and went through the runs. Here is the run log from our test for reference.

Run log for runs 1 through 10.

Run log for run 11 through 15.

The plots below show the COUNT of pixels that showed up in each FRAME of the video. The higher the count, the more "blobs" are present. The video was taken at 1920x1080 resolution, so there are a total of 2,073,600 pixels in each frame. We took 10 seconds of video at 30 frames per second, so there ends up being about 300 frames total.


Sort of boring, but this test was run to create a general baseline. Nothing really stands out here, which isn't surprising. We are essentially looking at noise.


This is probably the more typical scenario, just basic talking. Here we used the phrase from the source paper, "Stay healthy, people". This was repeated for the duration of the video capture.

The differences are not drastic. The no mask data has some obvious spikes, but is otherwise generally on par with the masks. The cotton bandana does seem to have some obvious spikes. The data of interest here may be within the noise floor for the current experimental setup.

Sneezing / Coughing

To simulate a sneeze or cough scenario, we went PFFFTTTTT, the basic blowing a raspberry. This of course produces a LOT of blobs. The results here are much more drastic. So much so that the "no mask" data swamps the other masks data. All of the masks curves get squished down when plotted on the same plot.

Here is the same plot with the "no mask" curve removed, so we can zoom in and compare mask-to-mask.

Wearing a mask here made a HUGE difference. The mask on values are back down to the silence and speech levels. Amazing! The cotton bandana seemed to be a poor performer, but otherwise, simply wearing any mask helps A LOT!

This guide was first published on Oct 14, 2020. It was last updated on May 20, 2024.

This page (Results) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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