Razer is perhaps best known for being a tech company that caters almost exclusively to gamers. The company, its current iteration founded in 2005, gained recognition for their colorful, uniquely designed, and eye-catching keyboard and mouse combos, then laptops, GPUs, and capture cards, before branching into the broader tech market with phones, monitors, webcams, and the like. They’ve even pushed the envelope on what’s possible through their various “Project X” concepts, like the current Project Brooklyn Gaming Chair teased at this year’s CES 2021. But it’s their decidedly timely and unexpected Project Hazel that’s making headlines.
The neon-colored and LED-lit aesthetic of many of Razer’s products is probably not the first thing you’d think of if you were, say, tasked with developing a mask to protected against viral transmission during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that’s exactly what Razer’s Project Hazel is, a cutting-edge attempt to put the company’s technology to work while allowing gamers and non-gamers alike to get back to business in an increasingly dangerous world. Let’s take a closer look at Project Hazel to see if this new mask is a legitimate answer to COVID or a clever bit of marketing (or maybe even both.)
As a prototype, Project Hazel is dubbed by Razer as the “most intelligent mask ever created.” The design team focused on five major areas to address safety concerns and improve quality-of-life elements:
- Safety – Classified as an N95 Surgical Respirator, the mask boasts filtering out 95% of particles, while protecting against large droplets and splashes. It also comes with a charger lined with a UV-lit interior to sterilize the mask while it charges.
- Social – Its clear, transparent design aims for a more normalized social interaction, especially for those who rely on facial cues. The interior even lights up when its dark to improve this function. A built-in mic and amp combo, Razer’s patent-pending tech, keeps your speech from being muffled while wearing the mask.
- Sustainability – New filters can be swapped out to maintain the mask’s BFE (Bacterial Filtration Efficiency) rating and the ventilators are powered by batteries intended for all-day use. The mask is also waterproof, scratch-resistant, and made of recyclable plastics, and is not intended to be disposable.
- Comfort – An active ventilation system cools and prevents CO2 build-up while an an air-tight silicon guard allows freedom of movement while speaking. The mask can be custom-fitted to your face while larger and thicker ear loops take the pressure of your ears themselves for increased comfort.
- Personalization – Rather than rock the same look as every other person wearing a Project Hazel, yours will be customizable with 16.8 million colors and effects to choose from for your mask’s two Razer Chroma RGB lighting zones.
Here’s a look at the mask in action:
Introducing Project Hazel, the world’s smartest mask. Designed to provide a safe, social, sustainable, comfortable, and personalized experience, this mask ensures the highest degree of safety with the best quality of life enhancements. Face the new normal with protection that’s far from average
Now all that sounds rather impressive, and it is, for the most part. Remember that this is a prototype, but also that Razer has donated over 1 million masks globally to help during the COVID pandemic. Could their Project Hazel be an answer for a COVID-plagued future, or even a near-future as governments attempt to distribute vaccines over the next few months?
Currently, Project Hazel neither has a price point, a planned roadmap to market, nor sign-offs from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, as The Verge reports. However, they also say that Razer is supposedly “working with a team of medical experts and scientists who are helping to develop the mask.” All well and good. They’re also working with THX to get the right balance of sound for their active speech system. All the better.
Ultimately this feels more like a niche purchase for folks who like to add a little bit of flair to their PPE (and more power to them), and in the meantime, it’s a nice bit of marketing to get some eyeballs on Razer’s impressive hybrid of computerized tech and COVID-preparedness. But if Project Hazel is the look of the future, I’m on board as soon as it’s available. Maybe it’ll help to make masks cool again for the folks out there who have become so resistant to the mere idea. That alone could be worth the hype.
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