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LG adds mic and speakers to its air-purifying mask, launching next month

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Minimize mask muffling with a built-in mic

LG claims the battery-powered, air-filtering mask is comfortable to wear for up to eight hours at a time.
Image: LG

LG has announced an updated version of its high-tech, air-purifying face mask, the terribly-named LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier. The company hasn’t announced pricing or widespread availability, but says the PuriCare will launch in Thailand next month “with other markets to follow once approved by local regulators.” Between the ongoing pandemic and widespread air pollution, there’s reason to think there’ll be demand for products like this.

LG first announced the mask last year, which uses replaceable air filters and built-in fans to filter the air. LG says the new version has a smaller and lighter motor, as well as built-in microphones and speakers that amplify the wearer’s voice. (Video of the original mask shows that it muffled speech quite effectively.) The latter technology, which LG is calling VoiceON, “automatically recognizes when users are talking and amplifies their voice through the built-in speaker.”

LG is not the first company to put this sort of voice-amplification tech in a face mask, with Razer’s Project Hazel mask (which is supposedly arriving in limited quantities later this year) offering a similar set-up. Razer’s mask also has LED lighting, so take that, LG.

The new LG PuriCare mask weighs 94 grams, has a built in 1,000mAh battery, and recharges in two hours via USB. LG claims it’s comfortable enough to wear for up to eight hours at a time, but in my experience no mask is truly comfortable after a few hours.

Notably, LG is not claiming the mask will protect against the novel coronavirus in any way, though it did hint that this was the case when it first announced the product. It’s true that some air purifying filters do catch particles the size of the virus that causes COVID-19, but without scientific studies on this particular product or more details about the sort of filters it uses, we can’t and shouldn’t make any claims for its efficacy in this regard. A mask is certainly better than no mask, though, and the best mask is one you’ll happily wear.

Anyway, welcome to 2021: we’re doing spec updates on face masks now.