Honeywell and rapper Will.i.am just debuted a futuristic face-mask with built-in wireless earphones





I’ll be honest, nothing about that title is even remotely predictable. In fact, it gets progressively weirder with every subsequent word. You wouldn’t expect Will.i.am to release a medical product, more so, partner with Honeywell over it… but together the rapper and the OEM conglomerate collaborated over a mask that combines the best of both parties. Titled the XUPERMASK, the $299 face-mask comes with dual three-speed fans and HEPA filters, but also packs Bluetooth earphones with noise canceling audio and 7-hour battery life. I’ll be honest, the association with Will.i.am aside, the mask really looks pretty futuristic (it comes co-designed by Hollywood costume-designer Jose Fernandez, who also designed the SpaceX astronaut suits). The fact that it’s built by Honeywell lends it a good amount of credibility, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I could actually see myself wearing one of these.

The XUPERMASK attempts at turning face-masks into a bit of a pop-culture item. It surely isn’t fluff… the mask is awaiting FDA approval, and it comes fitted with replaceable HEPA filters made by Honeywell – a company that’s built itself on designing the world’s greatest HVAC systems. The pop-culture element comes from rapper and Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am, who aims to turn the XUPERMASK into a renegade pair of wireless earphones too.

As far as the face-mask part of the design is concerned, the XUPERMASK sports a universal fit, thanks to a silicone face-seal and a high-performance elastic strap that wraps around your head. The mask is outfitted with dual-fans that work at 3-speed settings to deliver purified air directly to your face as you breathe. Air is pushed through a set of pleated HEPA filters manufactured by Honeywell, and the filters are designed to be replaced every 30 days for optimal performance. The fans themselves run for an impressive 7 hours on a full charge, providing enough usage to get you through most of your day… and to seal the deal, the mask even sports glowing LED rings around each fan for that futuristic appeal.

Aside from being just a face-mask, the XUPERMASK (pronounced Supermask, if you’re still wondering) also packs a pair of wireless earphones too. The earphones emerge from the sides of the mask, and can be docked on the mask itself on designated magnetic panels. When you want to wear them, just pop the earphones off and place them in your ear. The earphones come with Bluetooth 5.0, pairing seamlessly with any smart-device. They come with active noise-canceling (pretty impressive for a face-mask), and even house an integrated noise-reduction microphone for things like answering calls or sending voice-messages. There’s no indication of where this microphone is located, but I’d be thoroughly impressed if it was within the mask’s enclosure itself. It would essentially mean you could talk while wearing the mask and not have your voice get muffled.

The XUPERMASK comes in two colors for now – one in pure black, and another in a white + orange combination. Just visually, it does look pretty impressive. The LED rings, metallic fan covers, and those magnetic earbuds, all set the XUPERMASK apart. The mask even comes with a set of controls built on either side, allowing you to toggle fan speed, the LED light, switch on/off the ANC feature, and do basic things like answer calls or play-pause music. Off the top of my head, a fan-powered face-mask with earphones does sound like a crazy idea that might just work, and with the XUPERMASK, Honeywell and Will.i.am are betting on a future where masks will still be a common outdoor face-accessory… in which case, having wireless earphones built into your face-mask just sounds a tad bit more sensible. The XUPERMASK is currently available in two sizes, and for a retail price of $299. The mask comes as a part of a XUPERKIT (I’m guessing the nomenclature was Will.i.am’s idea), which includes a carry-case, 3 months worth of replaceable HEPA filters, a USB charging cable, and replaceable earphone tips for different ear-sizes. The XUPERMASK hasn’t received FDA approval yet, but it has been granted authorization for emergency use.

Designers: will.i.am & Jose I. Fernandez in partnership with Honeywell

These biodegradable face masks made from rice paper can be planted, helping you and the planet breathe freely!

One sight we’ve all gotten used to since around this time last year is the littered surgical mask. Since the 2020 pandemic started, we’ve seen them crumpled on the side of the street, tangled up in bushes, buried in garbage piles, caught on tree branches– they’re everywhere. One study even shows that with each minute of the day, three million masks are thrown away. Since we’ve already seen some of the devastating effects of the global climate crisis, the need to redesign face masks that don’t contribute to the world’s microplastic pollution levels cannot be overstated.

Marianne de Groot-Pons, a graphic designer, based in the Netherlands, started Marie Bee Bloom, a biodegradable face mask company, to give back to the earth after noticing all of the blue disposable face masks littered in the street corners and leaf piles. Marie Bee Bloom face masks are made from rice paper in a Dutch sheltered workshop and are filled with a mix of Dutch meadow flower seeds. Since the masks from Marie Bee Bloom are biodegradable, they can be buried in the ground once they’ve been used, then the flower seeds encased inside each mask will have their chance to sprout and bloom. De Groot-Pons’s hope in designing Marie Bee Bloom masks is that they’ll grow into plant life and flowers to help cultivate the earth and nourish the bees that call it home.

Everything about the mask is biodegradable and sustainably constructed too– from the stamped logo to the glue that holds it all together. The woolen cords on Marie Bee Bloom masks are handspun from pure sheep wool, which can be tightened or loosened around the ear with the connected adjusting piece punched out of repurposed vegetable egg cartons. The glue that holds the cord to the mask is made from potato starch. De Groot-Pons says that Marie Bee Bloom masks have not been tested for protection factors. However, they are just as safe to use as homemade fabric face masks. Besides, aren’t we all wearing two face masks nowadays anyway? Wearing a Marie Bee Bloom face mask is an easy way to help yourself, the earth, and the bees.

Designer: Pons Ontwerp

Click Here to Buy Now!

Marianne de Groot-Pons created Marie Bee Bloom after seeing all of the littered blue face masks outside.

Made entirely from biodegradable material, even the cords are handspun from sheep wool.

The mask’s adjusting cord-piece is shaped from vegetable egg cartons.

Currently, Marie Bee Bloom ships to the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany, but aims to ship worldwide soon.

Once you’ve used your mask and you’re ready to dispose of it, simply bury it in the ground and tend to it like you would other planted seeds. Then, watch it grow and wait for the bees.

The mask is made from rice paper and the cord is handspun from sheep wool, which is held to the mask with glue made from potato starch.

Wear the mask, bury the mask, sprout the seeds, watch the bees, and repeat.

The designer Marianne de Groot-Pons wearing a Marie Bee Bloom mask.

Oakley finally designed a spectacle-friendly N95 mask that prevents your glasses from fogging up

It’s obviously in Oakley’s best interests to make face-masks that accommodate spectacles! Considering that more than 75% of the human adult population wears spectacles, and that fogged glasses can be such a deterring factor when it comes to masks, the opportunity to make a spectacles-friendly mask has been around for quite some time. As a pioneer in the eyewear (and sportswear) industry, Oakley was perfectly positioned to tackle this problem head-on, and I’m sort of surprised they didn’t launch this sooner! Meet the MSK3, a face-mask with replaceable N95 filters, and a dedicated eyewear channel along the nose that lets you comfortably wear spectacles without them fogging up.

The Oakley MSK3 is a clever solution to a largely ignored problem. The mask comes with a mesh front that looks stylish and basically gives you the feeling of breathability, while a high-performance, disposable filter sits behind it, giving you over 95% filtration efficiency of particles down to the size of 0.3 microns. Adjustable straps allow you to calibrate the mask to the size of your face, while the MSK3’s most innovative feature, the redesigned nose-bridge, ensures a perfect seal around the nasal area. The silicone nose-bridge also has a dedicated eyewear channel – a thin strip that lets you perfectly wear your specs over your mask, sealing the nasal area. This seal ensures that A. your spectacles don’t slip off while running or jogging, and B. exhaled air doesn’t leak from the area around your nose, fogging your glasses. The result is a mask that’s impeccably designed to solve the one MAJOR problem nobody thought of solving… and sure, you can look at the product from Oakley’s obvious profit angle, but then again, if it means a better, safer, and more comfortable mask-wearing experience for me and 75% of all adults, I guess that’s a pretty remarkable achievement too!

Designer: Oakley

Face mask giving you foggy glasses? This transparent mouth-shield can fix that.

It’s 2021 and face masks still suck. They hurt your ears, cling to your mouth, fog your glasses, and have your upper lip feeling hotter and more humid than a sauna. However, they don’t have to be that way. The Mask Shield has a clever workaround to make wearing masks a lot more comfortable. Forming an intermediary layer between the mask and your face, the Mask Shield gives you breathing space… quite literally. It makes sure your mask isn’t sticking to your nose and mouth, while ensuring that a proper seal is created around your nose so your glasses don’t fog up. Lastly, it sits on your face like a pair of spectacles, causing less strain to your ears, and comes with a set of hooks that hold onto your mask (instead of having your mask loop around your ears).

The Mask Shield is more like a face-shield for the lower half of your face. It makes wearing a mask more comfortable, and lets you wear your PPE for longer without feeling strain or fatigue. The transparent design means you could potentially wear just the Mask Shield while socially distancing, and pop your mask on when you’re around people. The rigid body acts almost like an endoskeleton, giving your mask some definition so it doesn’t cling to your nose and mouth, and that nose-seal provides a major service to humanity by keeping your glasses fog-free, because believe it or not… nearly 75% of all human adults wear glasses!

Designer: Wild Tortoise

This reusable face-mask comes with a built-in sensor that tells you when to change the filters

The design community was quick to rise to the challenge of helping the world overcome the Coronavirus, but this came at a cost. Human consumption of plastic tripled in 2020 with the use of surgical face-masks, so designer Ollie Butt decided to combat both the virus and the trail of plastic trash the pandemic left behind. Ollie’s Face Mask (although conceptual) paves the way forward for an aesthetic, efficient, reusable gas mask that can actively filter air coming from the outside, while continuously measuring the quality of the air inside the mask. Equipped with a circuit board on the inside and a bunch of sensors (including one for sensing humidity), and an outward-facing LED strip, the Reusable Face Mask looks and feels cutting-edge.

The LED strip plays a dual role, adding a futuristic flair to the device while also allowing the mask to tell you when to change your filters. The humidity sensor on the inside can detect when the filters need replacing, and a simple plug-in-plug-out design detail lets you swap out old filters for new ones. The reusable mask comes with a silicone seal around the mouth, allowing it to fit comfortably while creating a tight seal, and around-the-head straps ensure you can wear the mask for long hours without worrying about ear-fatigue.

Designer: Ollie Butt

This astronaut-inspired PPE helmet has an air filter and even its own Bluetooth comms system!

Well, Jetsons didn’t get the flying car right, but they sure as hell nailed the fact that we’d need to wear helmets outdoors!

Meet the NE-1, an experimental face-helmet that looks like something a bee-keeper would wear, but is in-fact protective headgear that’s both safe and comfortable to wear in the pandemic. Developed by Texas-based ValhallaMED, the NE-1 helmet combines the face-shield and mask into a singular device you wear on your head. Fitted with a powered air system and a patent-pending filtration mechanism, the NE-1 routes air-flow to make sure the air you breathe is 95% pure, but without needing an air-tight seal like most conventional masks. Not only does the mask filter the air you inhale AND exhale, it comes fitted with coolers that keep you breezy and comfortable outdoors. The cool air, aside from giving you overall comfort, also helps the NE-1’s wide visor from misting or fogging up. The result is similar to wearing an actual bike-helmet. Face-protection and full visibility, albeit with two significant upgrades… clean air, and active powered cooling that lets you wear the helmet for hours.

One would argue that a futuristic, Jetsons-inspired helmet would be incomplete with its own comms system… which is why the NE-1 is outfitted with a Bluetooth audio system that lets you both speak and listen to others while you’ve got the mask on! The mask comes with a flexible neoprene neck-seal and a unique shape, accommodating a wide range of face sizes, and even letting you comfortably wear it with spectacles or sunglasses!

Designer: ValhallaMED

The Bluetooth audio and external speakers are ideal for “close-talkers” and “low-talkers” alike.

MIT’s Pandemic Response Design Challenge winner is a mask that actively scans the air for germs

A winner of the MIT Pandemic Response CoLab #ReimagineMask Challenge, the Social Mask doesn’t just stop microparticles and microorganisms from entering your respiratory system… it alerts you of their presence too.

The mask comes with a transparent design, which seems fitting since it focuses on data transparency too. The mask sports a 3D-printed frame that houses filters along with a biosensor that actively monitors the air you breathe. Air quality metrics are sent to your phone, capturing not just pollution levels but the presence of germs too. The sensor detects the presence of air-borne pathogens, alerting you if there’s something hazardous in the air. Data transparency goes both ways too, with a temperature sensor built into the cheek-area of the polycarbonate frame, allowing people around you to know your own body temperature… a feature that lets others know if you’re healthy or feeling feverish.

The Social Mask flips the contact-tracing argument by just tracing the air instead. More than just filtering the air you breathe of contaminants, the Social Mask lets you know if they’re there in the first place, and works to create a map of the places you visit, actively giving you stats of what the air was like when you were there. Pretty neat, eh?!

Designer: Burzo Ciprian

Oh No, These Programmable LED Face Masks Aren’t Creepy At all

Are you the kind of person who likes making other people feel uncomfortable? Well, you’re in luck, because now you can pre-order one of these creepy ‘What’s your FACE?’ programmable LED masks from Neon Culture on Kickstarter (provided they meet their $15,000 funding goal). I feel like this is all going to end like a scene from The Purge.

Available in battery-operated and USB rechargeable versions ($75 – $120, price dependent on model and whether you’re an early backer or not), each mask contains over 2,000 full-color LEDs with an 8-to-12 hour battery life. I’m going to be the life of the next virtual music festival!

The mask design can be controlled via a Bluetooth connected phone and comes with hundreds of presets, as well as the ability to create your own mask design with or without animations and custom text. Obviously, I’m going to make a design of my own face, that way I can be handsome both in front of AND behind the mask. I just saw my wife roll her eyes at me but I’m ignoring it.

[Kickstarter via thegadgetflow]

Instacart will cover the cost of its shoppers’ COVID-19 screenings

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