Unveiled earlier this year, Dyson finally released its highly anticipated headphones that promise to block noise and unwanted airborne particles thanks to a built-in filtration system and mask.
Perhaps better known as the “Bane mask” due to its resemblance to the Batman villain, it is part headphones and part air purifier. In February 2020, the British vacuum cleaner company applied for a patent for the model, dubbed Dyson Zone. It will both play crisp audio and purify the air that the wearer breathes through a removable “visor”. The strange design earned the Dyson Zone a lot of flak on Twitter.
Dyson has lost its everloving mind pic.twitter.com/OxJX4eC1Ut
— Vlad Savov (@vladsavov) March 30, 2022
In its press release, Dyson emphasized the Zone’s audio capabilities, highlighting the battery life — “50 hours of audio-only run-time or four hours of combined purification and audio run-time, charging to 100 percent in three hours.” — and “advanced” noise canceling achieved via sound-reducing microphones.
Most people know Dyson due to their innovation in vacuum cleaners. They eliminated the need for disposable bags and maximized suction even as its cleaners fill up with dirt. Over the years, the company has gradually expanded its product portfolio, including fans, air filters and even hair dryers.
As bizarre as the concept sounds, some experts believe this may be a good solution to all our pollution-induced problems. But it is also worth noting, that since the Zone was first announced many have also pointed out its disadvantages.
Dyson began developing the product years before the COVID-19 pandemic. The tech will not especially protect you from the virus. The Zone’s face visor also does not touch your skin. So, you may end up breathing in some polluted crosswind while wearing it.
One viral Twitter thread analyzing the device, authored by Naomi Wu, questioned whether its air purifying technology was safe for public personal use in the COVID-19 era, given the way the Dyson Zone projects airflow around its wearer.
Ok here's a technical breakdown of why the “@Dyson Zone™ Air-Purifying Headphones” aka. the Snot Cannon aka. the Wearable SuperSpreader Event is such a staggeringly bad idea and a significant danger to public health if it is allowed to be sold.
— Naomi Wu 机械妖姬 (@RealSexyCyborg) March 30, 2022
Another concern about the Dyson Zone is that the motors might be propelling out germy breath if you’re ill. So while the mask is intended to mostly protect the wearer, it can still put the general public in danger.
However, Dyson is confident that the Zone will not increase the chances of COVID-19 infection in those around the wearer. Since the initial announcement, the company has revealed plans for a medical-grade face mask attachment. This can clip into the visor to further protect against virus spread by blocking a wearer’s exhalations.
Despite the controversy, the Zone is not the most bizarre wearable product on the market. There have been many innovations in the past, combining fashion with tech. Most have failed, but a few have thrived. Like the Dash bluetooth headphones, which not only play music from your smartphone, but also function as a powerful workout assistant. They can measure heart rate, number of steps and calories burned.