It’s not dystopian sci-fi. Dyson’s new Zone air-purifying headphones might look as wild as they sound, but Dyson says it’s a real device you can buy sometime this fall.
It’s the first foray into portable tech for Dyson – a company best known for its high-end vacuums. The Zone is a set of noise-cancelling over-ear headphones that “simultaneously deliver immersive sound to the ears and purified airflow to the nose and mouth” and address the “urban issues 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 headphonesand and maybe even more than Headphones.
There are rumors that Dyson has been working on such a device for years. Bloomberg reported back in 2018 that Dyson was working on oneand in 2020 Dyson filed a patent for a new pair of headphones with a built-in air filter.
“Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. In our homes, at school, at work, and when we travel, whether we walk, bike, or take public or private transportation,” says Jake Dyson, chief engineer (and son of the company’s eponymous founder). “The Dyson Zone purifies the air you breathe on the go. And unlike face masks, it delivers a cloud of fresh air without touching your face with high-performance filters and two miniaturized air pumps. After six years of development, we’re excited to deliver pure air and pure audio everywhere.”
According to Dyson, the air filter component is a “contactless” system, meaning it doesn’t touch your face like a mask, but sits directly in front of it. “The compressors in each earcup pull air through the dual-layer filters and project two streams of purified air onto the wearer’s nose and mouth, which are directed through the non-contact visor,” explains Dyson. “Moulded recirculations on the visor ensure that the cleaned 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 key to avoiding the “inconvenience and irritation associated with full-contact alternatives.” At latest, nobody seems to complain too much about wearing filter plugs up their noses to draw moisture from the exhaled air back into the still suit for later drinking. But in the real world, people can have strong emotions wearing anything on their face, especially masks.
According to Dyson, to test the Zone, engineers used a breathing manikin named Frank, which was fitted with medical lungs and sensor devices that replicated human breathing patterns in a controlled chamber. This sensory equipment measured levels of contamination in the nose and determined “the filtration efficiency of those particles that would otherwise end up in Frank’s artificial lungs.” The mannequin was named Frank because it reminded engineers of Frankenstein, a Dyson representative told CNET.
Earlier this year, Razer released its cyberpunk styleair purifier mask. The company initially claimed to use N95 class air filters, but was later met with bad publicity when it had to withdraw that designation. Dyson doesn’t refer to medical grade masks when it comes to air filtration, but says electrostatic filtration captures 99% of particulate pollution as small as 0.1 microns like dust, pollen and bacteria, and that a potassium-enriched carbon filter captures city gases like NO2, SO2 and O3 on. How much it will cost to replace this filter is still up in the air, but filters for its full-size air purifiers .
On the audio side, Dyson says you can expect a premium listening experience with an accurate, neutral audiophile sound profile and proprietary advanced noise cancellation. The headphones are also designed for comfort, although Dyson hasn’t revealed how much the headphones weigh or what their battery life is with the air filtering and noise cancellation turned on. Each earcup houses two motors, and Dyson says they’re the smallest of its machines to date. The headphones connect via Bluetooth – not a word on the version number – and can also be used for voice calls.
Once we get our hands on a test sample later this year, we’ll provide more details on how the headphones perform and how they fare on New York City’s streets and subway system. We imagine we’ll get some interesting reactions from our fellow travelers.
Key features of the Dyson Zone Air Purifying Headphones according to Dyson
- Radically new format for delivering purified air and high-fidelity audio on the go
- Electrostatic filtration captures 99% of particulate contamination as small as 0.1 microns, such as B. Dust, pollen and bacteria
- Potassium-enriched activated carbon filter captures city gases such as NO2, SO2 and O3
- The non-contact air delivery visor directs two streams of purified air to the nose and mouth and is specially designed for outdoor use and crosswind conditions
- Dyson’s smallest device to date, two motors sit in each ear cup and are the “beating heart” of the air-purifying Dyson Zone headphones
- Advanced ANC and a high-performance electro-acoustic neodymium system deliver rich, immersive sound that faithfully reproduces the sound as the artist or creator intended
- 15 students from the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology worked on the Dyson Zone project, supporting disciplines as diverse as acoustics development, electronics and airflow systems.
- 3 ANC modes: isolation, conversation and transparency
- Isolation Mode: Highest level of active noise cancellation
- Conversation Mode: Activates when you dip the visor – automatically turns cleaning off to save battery power and increase conversation
- Shipping this fall