C’mon, guys. Surely you must have known that we would draw the obvious conclusion? It’s the head of the arch-villain himself, Luke Skywalker’s long-estranged daddy. (What! You missed that episode? So you probably didn’t know that Darth Vader ultimately achieved the redemption he sought by sacrificing himself?)
In fact, this face mask is not from a Star Wars sequel; it’s a product being developed for the US military by scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Centre. They’re working on concepts for the next generation of chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear respirators – and this baby could be just what soldiers need when operating in hot and humid conditions (jungles come readily to mind).
It employs a lightweight fan embedded within the mask’s filtration system that uses less power and is far less bulky than conventional respirators. The mini-blower works by pulling air through a filtration system on the side of the mask and sweeping it across the nose cup to allow for an even flow across the face. When the user exhales, the air valve closes and diverts filtered air into the mask’s eye cavity to over-pressurise the face piece, preventing any potential contaminates from entering the mask should there be a break in the seal.
Looking ahead, the researchers anticipate a mask that is able to sense when the fan needs to come on and when it should shut off (based on physiological monitoring), and where the draught of air should be directed. Okay, back to science fiction movies: was Darth Vader’s mask equipped with something similar? Sadly, we’ll never know: it was evidently a crucial part of his life-support system, and once it was removed, he was a goner.
Source: US Army