Music giant will.i.am, known for his long track record as a tech innovator, is stepping into the world of pandemic styling.
The rapper recently unveiled his Xupermask, a high-tech face mask with noise cancelling earbuds, Bluetooth support, and a HEPA filtration system, that comes through a partnership with Honeywell (HON).
“I just wanted to create something that made me feel a little bit more safe and more comfortable traveling,” will.i.am told Yahoo Finance. “And when I traveled, people asked ‘where did you get that mask?’ At first, I just wanted to make one for myself. And then we decided to start the company with my friends.”
Fans of will.i.am have seen the Xupermask before in videos like “Girl Like Me” featuring Shakira. will.i.am traces the idea to last year at the peak of the pandemic as he was preparing to fly home from the U.K.
“When you’re in the air for 10 hours, made me really nervous,” he said. “And so I had my design team create a mask that gave me comfort, and cause my anxiety by having a filter that sat on top of a fan for circulation.”
The materials used to create the Xupermask — including a silicone face seal, dual 3-speed fans, and HEPA filters — came by way of Honeywell.
The Fortune 500 company made an impact early on in the coronavirus pandemic, quickly boosting production of its medical-related products like personal protective equipment and ventilator filters.
For will.i.iam, creating these masks creates a clear path to a new normal, a path that has been lead by those in entertainment.
“Music got hit really hard, the crew, the sound stages, and entertainment, filming, we really innovated around the bubble, like for whether it’s the NBA or filming the voice,” he said.
“And that practice of getting tested,” he continued, “Going out there and making sure that I keep people safe, like that mentality. And that accountability is super important to promote safety for others as well as yourself. Because if you care about other people, other people will care about you.”
The mask will sell for $299 in two sizes, small/medium or medium/large, and will start shipping in the U.S. on April 8.
Bridgette Webb is a producer at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @bridgetteAwebb.
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