I look at dozens of tech products a month, and so many are a flash in the pan: Trendy, “me too” products that seem to be borne of the desire to “sell a lot of units” rather than to solve real problems for human beings. So when I was researching my recent segment for KTLA and first saw photos of Dyson’s new revolutionary (and wacky) new product, I stopped dead in my tracks. Not only were the images arresting, but it’s like they predicted the post-COVID world we’d all be living in when they started developing it years ago.
The Dyson Zone is a set of headphones that doubles as an air-purifying mask. Yes, you read that right. You wear them like over-the-ear headphones that have a visor that extends over your nose and mouth from ear to ear. On each ear cup is a fan that uses the air purifying technology in Dyson’s other products— it sucks, traps and filters dirty air, shooting clean air into the visor for you to breathe. All while providing hi-fidelity audio and active noise-cancelling for your ears. They’re the product of six years of research and 500 prototypes. They won’t hit shelves until this fall (price TBD), and honestly I’m not sure whether anyone would want to wear them.
But I think they’re brilliant.
According to the World Health Organization, 99 percent of the global population is breathing air that exceeds the guideline limits on pollution. (Of course, low and middle income areas of the world suffer the most.) Concurrently, the two biggest problems that office workers now face in our post-COVID back-to-work era are… noise pollution and air pollution. So it’s like Dyson had a crystal ball when they set out to create the Zone, and the idea couldn’t be more of its time… albeit a little strange looking.
The tech promises are impressive—the filters capture everything from ultra-fine particles like allergens, and a carbon layer protects against gas pollutants (think nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide). Particularly cool are the four different purification settings, automatic included, which gives the Dyson Zone the ability to do the dirty work for you, literally, as it judges the air quality around you and filters it as you go about your day. It just might be a godsend for anyone with severe seasonal allergies.
(Note that the Dyson Zone is not designed to protect against COVID, but there is a face covering attachment that meets FFP2 standards, so the device can multi-task a bit if needed. In addition, the mouthpiece is removable, which means you can also use it just as headphones if you want.)
Still, I can’t stop thinking about what the on-the-street reactions will be? Will it become a punchline, like a Segway, or Quibi? Even with a global pandemic and everyone donning face masks, I don’t see mass adoption something that looks like a helmet from a sci-fi movie. That said, personal purification devices are definitely becoming a budding category.
That said, my curiosity is certainly piqued and I’ll be first in line to try it when it gets closer to launch. Would love to wear one on an airplane, that’s for sure.