This outdoor protective headset harvests indoor and outdoor light to charge itself

3M solar charged headset
(Image credit: 3M)

While AI might be the overarching talk of the town this CES 2024, 3M has something just as innovative and forward thinking with its self-charging protective headset. 

The Minnesota based communications firm is leveraging serious tech with help from Exeger, delivering a headset that uses a so-called Powerfoyle, a patented solar cell technology that literally charges the device via both indoor and outdoor light. 

Announced in its press release, 3M is describing the WS Alert XPV headset as a protective communications device, one that will allow workers to communicate more freely and effectively using a Push-to-Listen feature and a noise-cancelling microphone. 

It's set to make a splash at CES 2024 and is releasing for purchase this March. 

Using light to power sound 

3M light-harvesting protective headset

(Image credit: 3M)

With assistance from Swedish-based Exeger, 3M Peltor is set to deliver an exciting new product geared toward industry workers and hard-hat wearers. Thus, it probably won’t be found on any best PlayStation 5 headsets lists, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t a game changer. 

In fact, that’s literally how 3M’s business director, Peter Bergham, describes them, highlighting how the WS Alert XPVs and their internal Powerfoyle are products of a 70-year long commitment to innovation in the communications sector. 

“This technology is a real game changer."

Peter Bergham

The Powerfoyle solar cell is being billed as the headset’s core technology, which allows it to harvest both indoor and outdoor light to recharge its built-in lithium-ion battery. The headset will thus remain consistently charged throughout the day, eliminating the need for single-use batteries or commonplace recharging.

Exeger aided in bridging the solar cells onto the 3M film technology. 3M also claims that Exeger’s two main Powerfoyle manufacturing facilities based in Stockholm run entirely on clean energy, ensuring that the headset remains a staple in environmental protection both in use and in its creation.

Design-wise, the WS Alert XPVs look something akin to Corsair's HS80 with a dash of an industrial feel. 3M didn't give any real specifications on build quality or the headset's handling of certain weather conditions, but its namesake as a protective headset should lend credence to its extreme durability. 

Feature-rich beyond light harvesting 

3M protective headset

(Image credit: 3M)

Although a continuous charge through solar energy alone proves to be a major leap forward, it’s not all the tricks under the WS Alert XPV banner. 3M describes a variety of ways its new headset can be used to make jobs far easier, main among them being its PTL (Push-to-Listen) feature. 

3M describes PTL as a way for workers to hear ambient noises around them at a faster clip where necessary. This would be beneficial for workers in more industrial environments, where surroundings might be a tad loud but communication with colleagues is still imperative. 

The WS Alert XPV also comes equipped with a noise-cancelling microphone to ensure everyone on the team hears you loud and clear, even in the most bustling of surroundings. And, its glove-friendly push buttons make adjustments an absolute breeze, so you don’t have to remove any protective gear when trying to change volume settings or switch to ambient sounds. 

3M will be bringing its light-powered headset to CES 2024 and is gearing up for an official release available to all consumers come March. 

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Ryan Epps
Staff Writer

Ryan Epps is a Staff Writer under the TV/AV section at Tom's Guide focusing on TVs and projectors. When not researching PHOLEDs and writing about the next major innovation in the projector space, he's consuming random anime from the 90's, playing Dark Souls 3 again, or reading yet another Haruki Murakami novel.