There’s little doubt that the COVID pandemic has dramatically impacted the world and how we do things. From the beginning, Razer has been involved in converting some of its manufacturing facilities to help make surgical face masks. Later, the company released branded cloth masks for consumers. The results have been impressive, with more than 1 million masks donated worldwide and 100,000 donated by the Razer community.
But what about going forward?
Razer’s Project Hazel seeks to answer that question. It’s a reusable, comfortable, sustainable, and personalized face mask that solves real problems with mask-wearing.
Oh, and yes, it has Chroma RGB.
The mask utilizes N95 medical-grade respirators with “detachable and rechargeable active ventilators and Smart Pods.” These Smart Pods feature high bacterial filtration efficiency (BFE) to remove 95 percent of airborne particles with a “high fluid resistance.”
Those features, however, are not that unique. Project Hazel, though, takes it all to another level.
For one, the mouth part is transparent. The reason is apparent: so people can see your mouth moving, smiling, and all the things that make human face to face interaction necessary. (This is also especially important for people who are hard of hearing.)
There’s also a new Razer VoiceAmp tech, which “uses a built-in microphone and amplifier to enhance the user’s speech.” It’s like Darth Vader, except not as ominous sounding.
Assisting in visibility are interior lights that “activate automatically in the dark, allowing wearers to express themselves clearly regardless of the lighting conditions.”
To lessen the environmental impact, the filters of Project Hazel are replaceable but also reusable. The whole mask comes in a nifty box that wirelessly charges the mask and uses UV-light to disinfect it.
And yes, there are “two customizable Razer Chroma RGB lighting zones offering 16.8 million colors and a suite of dynamic lighting effects” to add some user customization too.
The question, however, is why a new mask now knowing that COVID vaccines are rolling out? There are a few answers here, including knowing it will take months for such vaccines to reach a critical mass. There is also concern not if another similar (and airborne) outbreak will happen, but when. Finally, with some in cities living in unclear air or having respiratory issues, mask-wearing has become a part of daily life (especially in Asian markets, where Razer has a large following).
There have been a few attempts at smart masks, but Razer’s Project Hazel seems the most promising. By making it transparent, adding a voice amplifier, interior lights for low-lighting conditions, and even some fun with RGB, it is hard not to wear it even when picking up groceries.
There’s no ETA on when Hazel will ship, but Razer does mention some of its plans:
The smart mask concept will continue to be optimized through rigorous testing and user feedback to ensure safety compliance and maximum comfort and usability. Design improvements will also be ongoing to support the evolving user needs and deliver value without compromising functionality and performance. Project Hazel will be foundational to Razer’s ongoing support and commitment to public health and safety within the community.
Hopefully, that means we’ll see something by mid-2021.