Masks have become a ubiquitous part of our lives during pandemic — and some are becoming smarter. At CES 2021, AirPop introduced the Active+ Smart Mask, calling it the first air wearable in the market. Its built-in Halo sensor connects to an app that monitors breathing behavior, breathing cycles, and even the amount of pollutants blocked by the mask.
AirPop's new mask comes with specially-designed replaceable, disposable filters that block more than 99% of particulates, including dust, allergens and microbial particles. The app also notifies the user when the filter needs to be replaced.
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And while the COVID-19 pandemic turned masks into essential accessories to help prevent spread, founder Chris Hosmer told Tom's Guide that masks are here to stay.
"I think masking will continue to be part of our reality, even if it’s not as acute," he said. "The same way that you might have a pack of wipes in your purse, people will have masks on hand."
Hosmer founded AirPop in 2015 and began developing its first mask while living in China. He saw his daughter struggle with breathing the polluted air. "Masks hadn’t been innovated in a generation," he noted. "Billions of people need a better solution."
The new AirPop Active+ is the culmination of his team's R&D efforts. They looked at footwear and outerwear for design inspiration. The 3D knit outer shell is one piece, with no stitching. It is flexible, moisture-wicking and features "performance pores" for air flow.
A soft silicone edge runs around the inner filter, forming a continuous seal on your face. The mask has a unique aerodome shape that "allows the mask to sit off the face and creates this canopy of air between the mask and the face," Hosmer explained.
A face mask with an app
Hosmer claims its sensor is new for the face mask category. What looks like a valve on the outside of the AirPop Active+ is actually the Halo sensor, which connects to the app on an Android or iOS device and captures your breathing data in both passive and active modes. The metrics include breathing rate and volume of breath.
The app pulls in local air quality information so that you can see the pollutants blocked by the mask. And it can share the data via Apple HealthKit so you can track your respiratory health alongside other metrics.
To gather metrics, all it requires is a scan of the AirPop Active+ filter's QR code and it can monitor usage and notify you can when it's time to change it out. Authenticating filters was an important feature, Hosmer said, since, "even in the U.S. we’ve seen a lot of counterfeit N95s."
The filters have a life of 40 hours and AirPop sells replacements. The Halo sensor easily pops off so that the outer shell of the mask can be hand or machine-washed.
The AirPop Active+ mask will retail for $149.99 and will be available for purchase starting in February on AirPop's website and Amazon. AirPop's line also has face masks without the Halo sensor.