Patent status

GB application GB2008170.9, PCT application GB2021/000060





Available to license


Project number


A low-cost solution to prevent ear abrasions due to face mask use.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the effect of abrasion injuries experienced by individuals in both the civil and healthcare sectors resulting from regular face mask wearing. This accessory holds the strap of a face mask in place over the ears to alleviate pressure sores, reducing the abrasion suffered by wearers. The design allows for personalisation as various patterns and brands can be added, in a similar manner to ‘fashionable face masks’.

tech ear beans prototypeAs a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic the use of respiratory PPE is now ubiquitous in daily use beyond just the healthcare sector. Consequently, abrasion injuries are frequently experienced by healthcare staff and now the general public from the use of respiratory PPE, such as face masks.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) were tasked to develop technology to help with the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, this injury protection accessory was developed. The simple design fits around the ear and contains a longitudinal groove to hold a face mask strap.

This squishy ‘ear bean’ alleviates pressure on the ears to ensure people can work and can enjoy their daily lives without discomfort. Made from lightweight foam polymer, the ear beans are reusable and quick and easy to disinfect thereby reducing the quantity of plastic waste created.


  • Simple design – allows for low cost manufacturing at scale.
  • Form fit to user – soft mouldable foam material customisable to different shapes and sizes.
  • Brandable – Different patterns and designs can be added to appeal to wearers.
  • Minimises plastic waste – cheap and easy to disinfect to increase reusability.

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