Call it a sign of the times: Razer, a technology company primarily known for their portfolio of PC gaming accessories, has announced the development of what they claim will eventually become the “world’s smartest mask” – a plastic see-through ventilator equipped with dual replaceable N95 respirators, adjustable voice amplification, auto-sterilization…and not wholly unexpected from Razer, Chroma RGB LED illumination.
The design of the Razer Project Hazel isn’t wildly different from existing masks in appearance, albeit featuring more of a sinister-cool aesthetic that may bolster its appeal amongst the gaming community. The mask’s design also offers a fascinating glimpse how personal protective equipment continues to evolve, integrating hi-tech features aspiring to bridge yesterday’s “normal” with today’s developing realities.
The respirator’s most conspicuous detail is its integration of Chroma RGB LEDs orbiting each respirator ring, with additional lights housed within the mask. LEDs illuminating the wearer’s mouth should improve the visibility of facial cues while speaking while worn, but nobody necessarily needs 16.8 million colors of lighting for safety purposes. Even so, if it persuades more people to wear a mask in public, let there be light!
Beyond the keyboard-style LED light show, Project Hazel aims to improve a genuine annoyance while wearing masks: a muffled voice. The mask also integrates a speaker and microphone combination to amplify the wearer’s voice. One only hopes a Vader-esque voice modulation option finds its way into the final product.
While the Razer Project Hazel currently only exists as a work in progress concept, the mask highlights how technology, PPE and fashion continue to intersect and evolve, offering wearers safer methods to socialize in public, normalizing precautionary measures for both the benefit of the wearer and those around them.