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Turns Out, Dyson’s Air Purifying Headphones Aren’t That Crazy After All

Nov 25, 2023

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Dyson does it right in my eyes. I’ve personally tested every device the brand has ever released, and I stand behind its commitment to giving us living cleaner and healthier lifestyles. But when it released Dyson Zone—headphones with air purification—earlier this year, I thought, what the fuck? Do we really need this?

This week, as the worst air quality in the world hit NYC, I changed my tune. Air pollution due to the spread of wildfires is unfortunately our new reality. Maybe Dyson was right to think that this type of wearable tech really is our future.

Wednesday morning when my partner, Stéphane, and I woke up, the skies were orange, the smell of firewood-like smoke seeped through our windows, and our air purifiers alerted us even the air quality inside our apartment was not great. Stéphane—an amateur tech reviewer—knew this was his moment. While I worked from home, he set out into the world with the air purifying headphones. Here's what he really thought.

"Initially, I felt nervous to wear them out of the house feeling like I was wearing a spaceship mask, but then I remembered this is New York City, and you can wear pretty much anything without calling for a double take," he told me when he got home. "After getting the right fit—you have to make sure they cover your mouth and nose securely—I was shocked that the air did, in fact, feel cleaner and it was like walking about with a personal air purifier. Initially, I wore it to and from the office and while grabbing lunch. Breathing through the mouthpiece, every breath of air felt not just normal, but fresher than normal air. Every now and then I would remove my mask slightly just to check it was working, and the comparison was stark."

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Zone Headphones with Air Purification


How does the tech work? The contact-free mask that magnetically snaps on and off the headphones (more on music specs later). It sits right in front of your mouth and nose, and because it doesn't make direct contact, it's not quite as effective as an N95 mask, which can filter our viruses. This is more about pollution, and the filter removes air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, as small as 0.1 microns. At the time written, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is 184 in NYC. "Good" falls between 0-50, and "moderate" falls between 50-100. Clearly, if there was a time for this device, it's now.

"Technically speaking, you can adjust the air purification on both the headset with the tap of a button or on the app," Stéphane said. "I prefer to use the button on the headset for instant purification. But, as far as the app goes, I found it incredibly interesting as it shows me the air surrounding me, which is just kind of cool to know. After just a few hours of wear, it didn't feel uncomfortable, and I even continued wearing it inside my office for testing. No matter what room I entered, I was definitely breathing clean air. One thing I didn't like was when running the filter on maximum speed the battery died very quickly. I definitely needed to recharge it before heading home."

"While all the air filtration is great, the sound also holds it own. The noise-cancelation feature is competitive to most other high-end models I own. It is bulkier than other choices, of course, but considering it has a filter on it, it's quite impressive to be this compact and comfortable. The ear-pads are soft, channel through the perfect amount of sound, and not once did the face piece bother me. My final verdict: Aside from feeling a bit silly, the sensation of breathing good air, all while getting some solid sound quality is quite pleasant. But for $1,000, it's a privilege."

Ultimately, Stéphane found the Dyson Zone did make his day better. And it seems that there is more of a purpose for this type of device now. But I still have a few questions. How much should we really incorporate this type of tech into our lives? And how much money should it cost for healthier air everywhere you go? As extreme weather conditions become our new reality, we're about to find out.

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