Razer has allegedly made the smartest mask in the world: a reusable N95 respirator dubbed Project Hazel, according to a video shared on the company's YouTube channel.
A concept design with a glossy outer shell made from scratch-resistant and waterproof recycled plastic, Razer's Project Hazel is transparent enough to allow for lip-reading, and affective communication from facial cues when wearers chat with friends or foes.
Razer's new concept N95 mask with voice projection, RGB
At the moment, there's neither an attached pricetag, nor a release date. Razer calls its Project Hazel a "surgical N95," but the gadget hasn't gained any approvals or certifications from the Food and Drug Administration, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or the Centers for Disease in Control.
UPDATE Jan. 12, 3:20 PM EST: N95 mask may filter 95 percent of airborne particles, including coronavirus
Razer said it's working with a team of scientists and medical experts who are collaborating in their combined efforts to complete the mask, in a statement to The Verge.
The main attractions of the new N95 mask are the two circular zones on either side of the wearer's mouth — which provide ventilation, in addition to creating a slick take on the dystopian aesthetic of gas masks and perpetual crisis.
Razer says Project Hazel will make use of active disc-type ventilators — which will filter air on its way in, in addition to letting out CO2 upon exhalation. The company also said its new gadget will receive certification for filtering 95% of airborne particles — including the COVID-19 virus and other, invisible dangers.
UPDATE Jan. 12, 3:30 PM EST: N95 mask could alert wearer to change filter via mobile app
The ventilators can detach and recharge, but Razer is still working on the details of two significant factors: the duration of the gadget's effectiveness, and how it will tell the user when new filters are needed.
The ventilators' longevity is still in the testing phase, but Razer told The Verge that when the filters need a change, the wearer might be notified via a mobile app.
UPDATE Jan 12, 3:40 PM EST: Project Hazel mask seals around chin and nose, silicon guard
Amplifiers and microphones embedded inside the ventilators will project the wearer's voice through the mask — which means no more yelling to overcome the muffling effect. A live-action demo has yet to be seen, but Razer told The Verge it is working with sound engineers from THX to balance how loud the speakers should be for practical purposes.
Razer claims Project Hazel is comfortable, even with all the tech contained inside. The mask seals around the wearer's chin and nose with a silicon guard, using adjustable ear loops to provide a customized fit for most people. Needless to say, this mask is likely much heavier than an average COVID-19 face mask.
UPDATE Jan. 12, 3:45 PM EST: Razer plans to include big charging case, sterilizes mask with UV light
Naturally, we couldn't call it Razer without the Chroma RGB LEDs we've come to expect. Every one of the respirator-amplifier rings can glow with whatever color the wearer prefers. In the dark, a series of LED lights automatically activate — to illuminate the wearer's mouth and enable others to lip-read, if they know how.
Razer imagines each Project Hazel mask will come with its own large charging case — capable of sterilizing the entire device with UV light when not in use, but this idea is still nothing more than the concept. But while most of us already have masks, it's hard to imagine turning a Project Hazel mask down. Provided it hits the market.