LG unveils a battery-powered face mask

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Why it matters: Mask wearing has become a necessity during a global pandemic. LG thinks it can do better with a literal air purifier strapped to your face. While the built-in filters could do a decent amount of filtering, it’s unknown how effective it actually is. Furthermore, the limited battery life could be a deal breaker for those who have to wear masks all day.

Many localities and businesses have instituted mask mandates to help stem the spread of Covid-19. Since then, many businesses have quickly capitalized on the need for masks by creating custom designed masks (even if functionality is somewhat dubious). Ahead of IFA 2020, LG is going one step further by announcing a wearable air purifier, basically a battery powered mask.

The PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier is literally an air purifier built into a mask form factor. Each side of the mask contains a HEPA filter and three-speed fans. LG claims that the mask’s “Respiratory Sensor” is able to detect the rhythm of the wearer’s breath and adjust the fan speed accordingly. When you breathe in, the fans speed up and conversely slow down when you exhale.

LG’s mask contains a 820mAH battery that supposed to be good for up to eight hours of use in the low-power mode and only two hours in the high-power mode. The company says it’s used “extensive facial shape analysis” to ensure a snug fit and minimize leakage. Wearers can even use the LG ThinQ app to be notified when the filters need to be changed.

The primary issue is that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control actually recommends against using masks with exhalation vents to prevent coronavirus spread. While the mask’s HEPA filters can block respiratory particles, LG only mentions clean air intake, not expulsion of air. Although to be fair, LG doesn’t actually claim to be able to block Covid-19.

LG says the mask should be out in the fourth quarter but hasn’t listed any price or availability other than “select markets.”

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