Personal Tech | March 30, 2022 1:00 pm

Dyson Swears Its New Combo Headphones+Air Purifier Is Not a Joke — But It Should Be

The Dyson Zone: Real-life wearable air filter or Bane-inspired April Fool's joke?

A man wearing the Dyson Zone, a new hybrid of headphones and a portable air purifier
Would you wear this device to combat air and noise pollution?

“Is this an April Fool’s joke?”

That’s the first question my editor asked when he saw a pitch for the new Dyson Zone, which is described by the company as “air-purifying headphones with active noise canceling.”

Since it’s two days before the first of April and the company has already denied that this is a prank, we’re going to take their word that this is real.

So the next question is, what exactly is this? And then, would anybody real want it?

Basically, the Dyson Zone is a way for people to deal with air and noise pollution, particularly in cities. Dyson claims they’ve spent six years on their first wearable project, which included the creation of a manikin with mechanical lungs that could be used to test various Zone prototypes. The final result, after 600 prototypes, utilizes a two-stage purification system capable of filtering city fumes and pollutants. There’s also a removable visor that channels a continuous stream of purified air to your nose and mouth without touching your face.

But that’s not all: The Zone is also a pair of noise-canceling, over-ear headphones. Comfortable ones, too, as the Zone takes its shape inspiration from (again, no joke, right?) a horse’s saddle, distributing weight over the sides of the head rather than on the top.

“Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. In our homes, at school, at work and as we travel, whether on foot, on a bike or by public or private transport.,” says Jake Dyson, the company’s Chief Engineer. “The Dyson Zone purifies the air you breathe on the move. And unlike face masks, it delivers a plume of fresh air without touching your face, using high-performance filters and two miniaturized air pumps. After six years in development, we’re excited to deliver pure air and pure audio, anywhere.”

So, why? Dyson points out that the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 9 in 10 people globally breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline pollutant limits and more than 100 million people are exposed to long-term noise exposure above WHO guidance.

Dyson already knows what they’re doing with air filtration and we can assume they’ve figured out good audio tech, so the device — available this fall — should work as advertised. And given the rise in pollution and the ongoing pandemic, we can see use cases for a portable air filter. But Calum Webb over at Product Hunt gives the most honest critique: “This seems like a slightly absurd, but still interesting approach to air-filtration technology, and if anyone can make good air-filtration technology it’s probably Dyson. I still can’t get over how much it looks like Bane’s mask though lol.”