The Dyson Zone will ship this fall.
It’s not dystopian science fiction. Dyson’s new Zone air-purifying headphones may look as wild as they sound, but according to Dyson, they’re a real device that you can buy sometime this fall.
For Dyson – a company best known for its high-end vacuum cleaners – it’s their first foray into wearable technology. The Zone is a set of noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones that “deliver immersive sound to the ears and purified airflow to the nose and mouth at the same time,” addressing the “urban problems of air quality and noise pollution.” No word on pricing yet, but it seems safe to assume these will cost more than your typical premium noise-cancelling headphones from Bose and Sony, and maybe even more than Apple’s AirPods Max headphones.
There are rumors that Dyson had been working on such a device for years. In 2018, Bloomberg reported that Dyson was working on an air purifier-headphone combo, and in 2020, Dyson filed a patent for a new pair of headphones with a built-in air filter.
Now playing: Watch this: Dyson for your face? Zone air mask and headphones explained
“Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. At home, at school, at work and when we travel, on foot, by bike or by public or private transport,” said Jake Dyson, chief engineer (and son of the company founder of the same name). “The Dyson Zone purifies the air you breathe on the go. And unlike face masks, it delivers a plume of fresh air without touching your face, using high-quality filters and two miniaturized air pumps. After six years in development, we’re excited to delivering pure air and pure audio, wherever.”
Dyson says it has produced prototypes over the course of the Zone 500’s six-year development.
According to Dyson, the air filtration component is a “non-contact” system, meaning it doesn’t touch your face like a mask, but sits right in front of it. “The compressors in each pinna draw air through the dual-layer filters and project two streams of purified air into the wearer’s nose and mouth, guided by the non-contact visor,” explains Dyson. “Sculpted returns on the visor ensure that the purified airflow is kept close to the nose and mouth and is diluted as little as possible by external crosswinds.”
Dyson says developing a non-contact solution was critical to avoiding the “discomfort and irritation associated with full-contact alternatives.” In the latest Dune movie, no one seems to be complaining too much about wearing filter plugs in their noses to suck moisture from exhaled air back into their still lifes to drink later. But in the real world, people can have strong emotions about wearing something on their face, especially masks.
Dyson says to test the Zone, the engineers used a breathing mannequin named Frank that was equipped with medical-grade mechanical lungs and detection equipment that replicated human breathing patterns in a controlled room. The measuring equipment measured the pollution levels in the nose and determined ‘the filtration efficiency of those particles that would otherwise end up in Frank’s artificial lung’. The mannequin was named Frank because it reminded Frankenstein’s engineers, a Dyson representative told CNET.
Frank, the mannequin.
Earlier this year, Razer released its cyberpunk style Zephyr Pro air-purifying mask. Initially, the company said it used N95 air filters, but it later got bad publicity when it had to withdraw that designation. Dyson makes no reference to medical mask grades when it comes to air filtration, but does say that electrostatic filtration captures 99% of particulate contamination as small as 0.1 microns, such as dust, pollen and bacteria, and that a potassium-enriched carbon filter captures city gases such as NO2, SO2 and O3 on. How much that filter will cost to replace is still up in the air, but filters for the full list of air purifiers go for $70-$80 depending on the model.
As for the audio, Dyson says you can expect a premium listening experience with an accurate, neutral audiophile sound profile and patented advanced noise cancellation. The headphones are also designed with comfort in mind, although Dyson hasn’t announced how much the headphones weigh or what the battery life is with air filtration and noise cancellation. Each ear cup has two motors, and Dyson says they’re the smallest in all of its machines to date. The headphones connect via Bluetooth – no word on which version number – and can also be used for calls.
Once we get our hands on a test sample later this year, we’ll provide more details on how the headphones perform and feel on the streets and subway system of New York City. We can imagine that we will get interesting reactions from our fellow travelers.
The main features of the Dyson Zone air purifying headphones, according to Dyson
Radically new format to deliver purified air and high-fidelity audio on the goElectrostatic filtration captures 99% of particulate contamination as small as 0.1 microns, such as dust, pollen and bacteria Potassium-enriched carbon filter captures city gases such as NO2, SO2 and O3 Contact – free air supply visor channels two streams of purified air to nose and mouth, specially designed for outdoor use and in crosswinds. The smallest in any Dyson machine to date, two motors sit in each earcup and form the “beating heart” of the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones. Advanced ANC and a high-quality neodymium electro-acoustic system deliver rich, immersive audio that faithfully replicates audio as the artist or creator intended15 students from the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology worked on the Dyson Zone project, supporting disciplines as diverse as acoustic development, electronics, and airflow systems.3 ANC modes: isolation, conversation, and transparencyIsolation mode: top-level of active noise cancellation Conversation mode: Activates when you submerge the visor – automatically disables the purge to save battery and amplify the conversationShipping this fall
This post These air-purifying headphones look like something a Batman villain would wear
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