Personal Tech | April 8, 2021 11:33 am

Is Will.i.am’s $299 Xupermask the Future of Face Masks?

It features built-in fans, noise-canceling headphones and a SpaceX connection

Will.i.am. in the Xupermask, a co-creation with Honeywell
Will.i.am. in the Xupermask, a smart mask collaboration with Honeywell.
Xupermask / Honeywell

Will.i.am., the Black Eyed Peas co-founder and songwriter behind songs like “My Humps,” recently teamed up with Honeywell on a smart face mask called the Xupermask.

That’s a lot of comedy material right there, but Will.i.am. (full name William Adams) has been a tech entrepreneur for years. He was even the director of creative innovation at Intel at one point, and, outside that role, had his share of tech missteps. As The New York Times notes, a prototype of the musician’s new mask caught the eye of Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff last summer when the latter was watching the MTV Video Music Awards. An introduction to Honeywell ensued, and launching Thursday, we have the Xupermask.

So what is a smart mask? While it looks like the bottom half of a Stormtrooper helmet to this writer, there’s a lot packed into the interior. It features three dual-speed fans, a HEPA filtration system, noise-canceling headphones, LEDs, a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth capability. It even has a seal over the nose to keep glasses from fogging.

As the Times suggests, the Xupermask “makes the wearer look sort of like a sci-fi rhino warrior.” It was crafted by Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood costume designer who created the SpaceX suits for Elon Musk, and the $299 price tag is about the same cost as buying a regular pair of noise-canceling headphones.

As Will.i.am told the newspaper, “We are living in sci-fi times. [The pandemic] is straight out of a friggin’ movie. But we are wearing masks from yesterday’s movie. So I wanted to make a mask to fit the era that we’re in.”