(NEW YORK) — If you like keeping safe from COVID-19 — and maybe looking a bit like a robot — you’re in luck. On Thursday, the Xupermask — what’s being billed as the world’s first “smart mask” — will launch.
The New York Times reports Black Eyed Peas frontman and budding technologist will.i.am inspired the design, based on one he wore at the MTV VMAs last year.
The CEO of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, was one of those who caught the performance, and will told him the mask design was something he’d been working on since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Benioff and will then collaborated with the CEO of Honeywell, a company that was making N95 face masks, and the Xupermask was born.
For $299, the Xupermask comes stocked with noise-cancelling headphones, Bluetooth, and a HEPA filtration system — which the company says is not medical-quality — and fans that keep your glasses from fogging.
The Times reports that the silicon and athletic mesh mask costs $299 and was designed by Jose Fernandez, who created costumes for movies like Black Panther, The Avengers and X-Men 2. Those gigs also got Fernandez the job designing the sleek spacesuits for Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
“We are living in sci-fi times,” will.i.am told the Times. Describing the pandemic as being, “straight out of a friggin’ movie,” he added, “We are wearing masks from yesterday’s movie. So I wanted to make a mask to fit the era that we’re in.”
Despite declining infection numbers and people being vaccinated by the millions, will.i.am thinks masks are here to stay. “SARS happened in Japan and Southeast Asia, and they got over it, and they still wear masks,” he explained.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.