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Dyson’s air-purifying headphones

Nothing but pure sound and pure air to beat pollution

Dyson has become synonymous with nifty home appliances now. Even as much as Hoover, Electrolux and Moulinex. Established in 1991, it burst out of Malmesbury in Wiltshire, south west England and rose to become a manufacturing powerhouse developing hand dryers, heaters, bladeless fans and air purifiers, as well as its eponymous, bagless hoovers. It’s even dipped its toe into producing medical ventilators and electric vehicles.

Now, with almost hubristic aplomb, the Singapore-based company has branched out even more and produced some noise-cancelling headphones in the form of the Dyson Zone. Intending to join the likes of Bose, Beats, Apple and Sony, its take on this particular aural device certainly isn’t understated. A large metallic blue headband and metallic grey over-ear parts lend it a contemporary edge.

Following the same elegant, modern and clean aesthetic that characterises many of its other products, Dyson have gone one further than promising advanced noise cancellation and pure, high-fidelity audio. As with the bladeless fans, hair straighteners and lighting products, the Dyson Zone addresses another very modern problem: air pollution.

Twinned with the protuberant headphones is a wearable air purifier that hooks onto the headphones and claims to capture the worst of the airborne impurities that we inhale. All the gas, allergens and harmful particulate matter that’s spewn out of factories, vehicle exhausts and a thousand other objects and actions are captured in its purifier. 

Dyson’s new air-purifying headphones. Phot: Dezeen

Future not-so perfect

Something that is usually the preserve of dystopian fiction, cyberpunk graphic novels or neo-noir, scientific movies is now well and truly here. This gradual “adaptation” to man-made changes in our environment, by pollution, industry and climate change, has been commoditised and spun as a first that tackles the urban issues of air quality and noise pollution.

The company’s chief engineer Jake Dyson certainly gives the product a positive note

“Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. In our homes, at school, at work and as we travel, whether on foot, on a bike or by public or private transport. The Dyson Zone purifies the air you breathe on the move. 

And unlike face masks, it delivers a plume of fresh air without touching your face, using high-performance filters and two miniaturised air pumps. After six years in development, we’re excited to deliver pure air and pure audio, anywhere.”

There’s no denying that the company has noticed that noise-cancelling headphones are obviously used more prominently by those living in urban areas, and within those settings come an inevitable rise in air pollution and airborne grime.

Ten years ago, headphones with a conjoined air purifier would have been greeted with as much furore as the Google Glass, and been adopted with the same mixed results. 

Now the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that mask wearing is more commonplace than ever, and the notions of virus transmission are now more entrenched than ever in our psyche.

What’s most notable about the headphones is the way that our changing environments are shaping our consumer choices. It has, of course, always been thus, but as with Seaweed Clothes and futuristic air purifiers, the development of new devices for the modern world gets ever more concerning – nay, haunting – with every release. But fans of Blade Runner: 2049, the original (and best) Total Recall, and Minority Report will no doubt be slipping on these babies as we write.