I got this idea when performing Hajj with my wife in 2014. We were waiting for days of hajj in Mecca. Everyday we go back and forth between the hotel and the Grand Mosque of Haram, waiting for the day of Arafah. I was thinking about the ihram wear, where even for women, they must show both face and two palms. However, due to the dusty air condition, the ulemas considered such situation is an emergency so that it was permitted for the women to use mask around their mouth and nose.
At that time I was thinking the opportunity to conduct research on the development of transparent masks, allowing the light to transmit but blocking the dust. I asked my students to conduct this research when I arrived in Indonesia after completing the hajj. We have to be able to find materials that showing such properties, and the potential one is nata de coco. This is an edible, fibrous and transparent material. We have developed a model of such masks although the properties was not perfect. The work must be continued until finding the most appropriate properties. We published the initial results in Materials Research Express with the title “Development of Nata de Coco-based transparent air masks”.