Razer claims to have made the world’s smartest mask: its new reusable N95 respirator called Project Hazel. It’s a concept design with a glossy outside shell made of waterproof and scratch-resistant recycled plastic, which is transparent to allow for lip-reading and seeing facial cues when you chat with people.
Currently, there isn’t a price or release date attached. Razer refers to Project Hazel as a surgical N95, but it hasn’t yet earned any of the necessary approvals and certifications from the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or Occupational Safety and Health Administration. In a statement to The Verge, Razer said it is working with a team of medical experts and scientists who are helping to develop the mask.
The main features of this mask lie within its two circular zones that flank your mouth. They’re used for ventilation, giving the device an almost futuristic gas mask look. Razer claims Project Hazel will use active disc-type ventilators, filtering air that’s breathed in, as well as the CO2 that’s being exhaled. The company adds that it will be certified to filter 95 percent of airborne particles, including the COVID-19 virus and other common pathogens.
These ventilators are detachable and rechargeable, though Razer is still hammering out the details on two very important factors: how long they’ll be effective and how Razer will alert the user when it’s time for a new one. A spokesperson told The Verge that the ventilators’ longevity is still being tested, and when the filters need to be changed, Razer envisions users being notified via a mobile companion app.
Microphones and amplifiers embedded in the ventilators will project your voice through the mask, so you won’t have to worry about sounding muffled. We haven’t seen this in action yet or had the chance to try it out ourselves. Razer told us that it’s working with THX sound engineers to find a balance in terms of how loud the speakers should be for accessibility purposes.
Razer asserts that Project Hazel is comfortable despite all of the tech inside. The mask makes a seal around your nose and chin with a silicon guard, and it uses adjustable ear loops so that most people should be able to find the right fit (though it is likely quite a bit heavier than your average mask).
Of course, this wouldn’t be a modern Razer product if it didn’t support Chroma RGB LEDs. Each of the respirator-meets-amplifier rings can glow in the color of your choosing. And when it gets dark, a set of LEDs activate automatically to shine light on your mouth so others can still see you talk. It’s tough to tell just how effective these LEDs will be in fully illuminating your mouth, but they may be helpful nevertheless.
Razer envisions that each Project Hazel mask will include a large charging case that sterilizes the mask with UV light when it’s not in use, although this is still in the concept stage.
Most of us already have countless masks, but there’s certainly a place for Project Hazel in the world — if it ever comes out.
Razer has one more announcement for CES 2021, and it’s purely conceptual. It’s called Project Brooklyn, and (since you can’t tell from the name) it’s a high-end gaming chair with built-in haptics and a rollout curved OLED screen. Theoretically, it supports inputs from all of your gaming sources, making it the ultimate game station. But without an in-person CES, it seems like Razer didn’t feel the need to churn out a physical mockup of Project Brooklyn. We’ll see if some aspects of this idea make it into future products; the rumbling haptics seem like the most practical components.