You just can’t keep Will.i.am away from technology. The musician, also known for his role as “Director of Creative Innovation” at Intel, has managed to find his way back in headlines thanks to the Xupermask, a “smart” face mask designed in collaboration with Honeywell and Black Panther costume designer Jose Fernandez.
In Honeywell’s words, the Xupermask is a “one-of-a-kind innovative smart mask for the mid- and post-pandemic world.” It combines Honeywell HEPA filtration with comfortable sneaker-like mesh fabric, futuristic design, and wireless ANC earbuds, because why not? It also features 3-speed fans and LED lighting, in case the earbuds weren’t enough.
In an interview with The New York Times, Will.i.am compares the pandemic with a movie, and states that “we are wearing masks from yesterday’s movie.” So, quite naturally, he “wanted to make a mask to fit the era that we’re in.” He’s correct, mask design is still a bit primitive and makes things like early language development difficult for children. But Xupermask seems more directed toward fashion than functionality, lacking features like the clear mouth guard or voice amplification system seen in Razer’s Project Hazel mask.
On the other hand, Xupermask shares one of the Project Hazel mask’s greatest shortcomings—a lack of regulatory certification. Both masks are “approved” for medical use under the temporary Emergency Use Authorization act, but unless they receive actual PPE certification, they technically do not quality as respiratory protective devices or medical equipment. Razer says that it is perusing regulatory approval during its manufacturing process, but Honeywell will start selling its Xupermask April 8th without going through the FDA first.
The Xupermask is available in black or white with two sizing options. It costs $300 and comes with a carrying case, 3 month of HEPA filters, multiple sized ear tips, a USB-C charging cable, and an additional fabric mask. Inspired by streetwear brands, Honeywell is selling the Xupermask in small “drops,” with the first drop on April 8th.