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Dyson unveils noise-canceling headphones that pump out filtered air

WTF?! Do you ever wish that your noise-canceling headphones made you look like a Cyberpunk 2077 character while also filtering the air you’re breathing? It’s pretty unlikely, but that hasn’t stopped Dyson from coming up with a product that achieves those ambitious goals.

The Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones will make wearers stand out even more than if they were sporting Razer’s Zephyr facemask, given the way it wraps around much of the head. But looking like a quest giver from Shadowrun does have its advantages: Dyson says it’s ideal for city life, able to block pollutants such as gas, allergens, and particulate matter, as well as unwanted noise.

The detachable vizor on the bottom half of the device is a miniaturized version of Dyson’s air filtration technology. Air is pulled through the ear cups, filtered, and moved through to the vizor, where it’s blown into the wearer’s nose and mouth area. There are three different levels of air purification that can adjust automatically (in Auto mode) based on what you’re doing.

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The vizor sits in front of the face rather than creating a seal around it, though there will be a separate attachment if you prefer or need full contact. It connects to the headphones using magnets, and there are hinges for flipping it down so you can talk to people without screaming through a mask.

Dyson says the zone can filter 99% of particle pollution, and the non-reusable filters will need to be replaced after around a year, depending on their usage levels.

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In addition to being an air filtration system, the Zone is also Dyson’s first foray into the audio world. The company says a team of audio engineers and acousticians worked together so the headphones would create “excellent audio led by metrics, backed up with extensive listening trials,” delivering “a faithful reproduction as the musicians or creators intended.”

There are three ANC modes for canceling out ambient sound: Isolation, blocking out most noise; Transparency, allowing in key sounds such as sirens and announcements; and Conversation, which activities when you drop the vizor. That final mode also turns off the air purification and amplifies the sound of voices. The headphones charge via USB-C and connect to the Dyson Link app.

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Unlike masks such as Razer’s Zephyr, LG’s battery-powered option, and the similar and equally strange-looking Xupermask from Will.i.am, the Dyson Zone wasn’t created as a response to Covid-19—Dyson says it has been in development for six years. Additionally, the minimum particle size its filters can block is 0.1 microns, much larger than viruses such as the coronavirus.

Dyson never said how much the Zone would cost; the similar Xpermask starts at $299. It will be available online and in-store later this year.

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