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I tried Dyson’s air filtration headphones to see if they really work

Metro.co.uk writer Lee Bell tries on the Dyson Zone at the company's laboratory in Wiltshire (Credits: Lee Bell)

Metro.co.uk writer Lee Bell tries on the Dyson Zone at the company’s laboratory in Wiltshire (Credit: Lee Bell)

Dyson is known for inventing the most innovative gizmos for the home, but never before has the British tech giant attempted anything like it.

The company’s latest invention, dubbed the Dyson Zone, comes in the form of a pair of headphones with a built-in air-purifying mask designed to help people avoid air pollution.

Making any wearer look like a crossbreed between Bane and a stormtrooper, the wearable combines noise-canceling over-ear headphones and a vented visor that sits right over your nose and mouth, pumping clean, filtered air – ripe for healthy breathing.

Metro.co.uk has been granted a rare behind-the-scenes look at Dyson’s Engineering Labs in Wiltshire to get some exclusive hands-on time with the futuristic device.

Here are some of our first thoughts on the pretty crazy thing and if it’s actually any good…

Get into the zone

EMBARGOED UNTIL WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 6AM. Issue date: Wednesday March 30, 2022. PA Photo. The Dyson Zone comes with a detachable visor which, when fitted, delivers purified air to the wearer's nose and mouth. See PA Story TECHNOLOGY Dyson. Photo credit should read: Dyson/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

The Dyson Zone combines noise-cancelling headphones with a unique air purification system. (Credit: PA)

Putting the zone upside down is not as complicated as you might expect. The mouth visor easily detaches so you can clip it to your grommets like you would any regular over-ear headphones. To attach the visor, simply hold it in front of your mouth and a magnet mechanism on the sides pulls it right into place.

You can then position it higher or lower, or slide it closer to your face for the right fit. The whole thing is surprisingly easy to put on, nice and light and really comfortable.

A tap of the air filter button and tiny fans positioned in each of the earphone cups get to work, directing filtered air directly into your nose and mouth area. It feels oddly satisfying, if not a little relaxing.

These fans are powered by the smallest motors Dyson has ever designed. They work with two compressors that quietly suck in ambient air and pull it through a pair of dual-layer filters for purification before projecting it onto your nose and mouth through the non-contact visor. This filters out allergens and particles as small as 0.1 microns, according to Dyson.

Once cleaned, the air is not simply blown onto your mouth like that of a hair dryer. Dyson really thought about how to direct the airflow towards you so it feels natural.

There are recirculations on each side of the visor, shaped to keep airflow close to the nose and mouth and diluted as little as possible by external crosswinds. You can breathe normally and nothing feels weird. The quality of the air you breathe is then relayed to a connected Dyson app, so you can keep an eye on your data on the go and see where the air quality is poorer on your travels.

Of course, Zone isn’t just about removing trash from the air. It also offers entertainment through the headphones, which we have to admit the sound quality is actually very impressive. Especially considering this is Dyson’s first foray into audio. Bass is nice and full, and music reproduction was generally rich and immersive in our brief experience. It even includes 4-way active noise cancellation (ANC) to completely block out external noise.

Looks like a cross between Bane and a Stormtrooper (Credit: Lee Bell)

Looks like a cross between Bane and a Stormtrooper (Credit: Lee Bell)

Dyson has yet to confirm run times for the Zone, but we’re told that will depend on the different airflow modes, with a ‘low-flow’ setting obviously using less power and a ‘high-flow’ mode using more.

The clever thing about the airflow, however, is that it can also be made adjustable using the “Auto” function. Here the strength of the airflow changes automatically to deliver the right amount of filtered air, depending on how hard you breathe. Super smart stuff.

The big elephant in the room, however, is how this head-worn device makes you look. A look in the mirror while wearing the Zone might be enough to put you off ever wearing it again. Donning these on the street is sure to turn heads, and most Brits don’t like drawing attention to themselves. Because of this, it’s hard to see the Zone really take off, which is a shame.

Fundamental in the fight against air pollution

EMBARGOED UNTIL WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH 6AM. Issue date: Wednesday March 30, 2022. PA Photo. The Dyson Zone comes with a detachable visor which, when fitted, delivers purified air to the wearer's nose and mouth. See PA Story TECHNOLOGY Dyson. Photo credit should read: Tom Bunning/Dyson/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may be used for editorial reporting purposes only to simultaneously illustrate events, things or people in the photo or facts mentioned in the photo's caption. Reuse of the image may require further permission from the copyright owner.

A prototype of the Dyson Zone being developed in the lab. (Credit: PA)

Despite what many may think, the rather bizarre looking Dyson Zone wasn’t released in response to Covid. It has been in development for over seven years and was created as an attempt to thwart growing concerns about air and noise pollution in urban areas.

In tests, the Dyson Zone has successfully filtered two types of virus from the air, although it hasn’t been tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid. Dyson is very vocal about the Zone not being designed to dodge the next big pandemic. Although I imagine it would probably help.

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So if the zone isn’t about Covid, why develop it? Well, Dyson has been banging the drum about air purification for ages and why it’s vital due to the health risks associated with air pollution.

The company has developed a range of devices over the past five years to tackle this problem, highlighting just how bad things are in the UK and the dangers of breathing this air on a regular basis.

In the UK, air pollution is a leading cause of diseases such as asthma, lung disease, stroke, cancer and heart disease. According to the World Health Organization, air pollution is one of the greatest environmental health risks.

In 2016, the agency reported that outdoor air pollution in both urban and rural areas causes an estimated 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide. And it’s a growing concern. In 2019 it was reported that 99% of the world’s population lived in places where air quality guidelines were not met. By reducing air pollution, countries can reduce the burden of disease.

If it works as well as its engineers say it will, Dyson’s Zone could be a revolutionary device in the fight against premature death from air pollution.

will it arrive

Would you probably buy a Dyson Zone for yourself? (Image credit: Lee Bell)

Would you probably buy a Dyson Zone for yourself? (Image credit: Lee Bell)

So, with air pollution becoming such a talking point, could the Dyson Zone be a thing of the future?

While I really appreciate the device, the innovation that went into it and how comfortable it was, I’m still not entirely convinced. During my visit to the company’s labs, Sean Ng – a product design engineer at Dyson who has worked on the project since its inception seven years ago – made a good point. He mentioned how he sees the device becoming particularly popular in Asian markets due to higher levels of pollution there and how commonplace mask-wearing is in the region. I have to agree.

However, we think there’s one thing that’s holding the Zone back, and that’s its novel and somewhat intimidating look.

People were a little hesitant to wear Airpods when they first came out due to their unconventional looks, and now they’re probably the most ubiquitous headphones out there. But there’s a big difference between two little white things in your ears and a massive block of face-obstructing plastic resembling a cyborg.

It might be a step too far for some people, even those who are seriously concerned about air pollution in the areas where they live. For many, I think the zone will be a toss between health and social feeling alienated, and in most cases it’s a shame, but the latter will win.

A little gimmick? Maybe. super cool? Definitely.

Dyson is yet to confirm a release date for the Zone but has said we can expect it to go on sale sometime in the fall. A price hasn’t been set yet either, but one thing is for sure: it won’t be cheap.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/28/i-tried-dysons-air-filtration-headphones-to-see-if-they-really-work-16707860/ I tried Dyson's air filtration headphones to see if they really work

Justin Scacco

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