SIP was developed by OASUS (Opening.America.Safely.US), a public health initiative building evidence-based tools to help safely reopen businesses and promote a healthy lifestyle during the COVID pandemic.
Based out of San Francisco, our team noticed the difference in approach that different states took in combating the pandemic. On one end of the spectrum was California, and on the other end were states like Florida and Texas. Neither was optimal, but they did the best they could given limited information at the time. We set out to use viral and epidemiology studies to design a set of evidence-based protocols, policies, and products to help public spaces safely open and operate.
SIP Origin Story
It started at a birthday party where we noticed how diligent everyone was about being masked....until people started drinking. At which point, the masks came off and stayed off, as if the viral threat had magically disappeared. This same occurrence was happening around the country, as public venues implemented a policy requiring masks, except when eating and drinking. The problem is that when socializing at these venues, people are eating and drinking the vast majority of the time, leaving them maskless and vulnerable for extended periods of time. We call this the Mask Loophole and set out to solve the drinking portion.
In an ideal world, people would quicky pull their mask down and back up after each sip. But in reality, it's hard to get people to put a mask on once, let alone continually. After thousands of observations, we saw less than 5% of people actually pull their mask up after each sip. It's just very cumbersome, and we often forget about it as we get caught up in other conversation. So that was the primary need we targeted solving....a solution that would do the work for you, so you wouldn't have to.
The failure of other solutions
Other solutions (such as zippers and flaps) open up a hole right in front of your mouth (ie, your airway!), leaving you just as exposed as taking off your mask. To be of any use, they require you to zip or close that flap between every sip, making it just as cumbersome as pulling your mask up between sips. That's why we designed SIP to automatically seal after each sip, so you don't have to bother with it.
Our solution: SIPSIP actually stands for Sealed Intake Port. And it just so happens to let you sip (yes, pun intended!). SIP was designed to optimize the following parameters:
- Airtight seal in two key areas
- Fully sealing the valve opening after the straw is withdrawn
- Ensuring a hermetic seal in the interface between SIP and your mask (ie, no air leakage in the hole introduced into the mask)
- Retrofitting to any mask
- Custom fit that could be easily self-installed
- Easily adoptable user experience
We designed and tested a number of features for safety, durability, and usability. After a number of iterations, we arrived on a design with the following benefits...
- Airtight valve that tightly grips around straw and hermetically self-seals after removing straw
- The valve construction allows for a variety of straw insertion angles without compromising its integrity
- Patented valve design ensures airtight seal between the valve and the mask
- Flexible construction enables easy self installation, which allows the user to custom fit the position to their mouth
- This was a critical design choice between having the valve pre-installed at a generic position vs self-installing at the right position for you. We chose the latter because of a better user experience from the custom position, and because it allows you to use this device on the mask of your choice.
- Low profile doesn’t protrude inside the mask or into the mouth
- Soft food-grade silicone for your lips to press against
- Detachable cap to cover the valve when not in use (not necessary, but nice to have for cleanliness)