This article originally appeared on ABACUS It might not protect you from the coronavirus, but Xiaomi’s freshly patented face masks could inform you about the quality of the air you’re breathing. The US Patent and Trademark Office granted Xiaomi a patent for a “smart mask” design that was filed in June 2016. It consists of a pollutant filter and a sensor that records how long a person has been wearing the mask. A battery-powered processor sends the data to another device using Bluetooth, infrared or NFC. The mask estimates the amount of pollutants absorbed by the mask based on the local air quality index while the user is wearing the mask. Companies often file patents for products that never hit shelves, so it’s possible Xiaomi’s smart masks will never come to fruition. But there are good reasons why Xiaomi thinks there might be demand. Even as many factories in China are currently shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak, coal-burning and other industrial activities have been blanketing Beijing in badly polluted air . The coronavirus has also resulted in a shortage of face masks in China and around Asia. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.