If there is one thing the coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it is that face masks are not going anywhere any time soon.
But technology is always one step ahead, finding ways to make our lives easier, as demonstrated by this year’sGulf Information Technology Exhibition, or Gitex, in Dubai.
One of the many futuristic innovations on display was the Xupermask, introduced as “new generation” personal protective equipment that aims to create a seamless user experience.
The facewear was designed by Jose Fernandez, a Hollywood designer who created costumes for some of the most widely recognised superheroes in film, including Batman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Thor and Black Panther.
Fernandez collaborated with American rapper and entrepreneur will.i.am and software and technology company Honeywell to create Xupermask.
The end result was a blend of innovation, smart technology and integrated audio design.
Some of the most prominent features of Xupermask include built-in Bluetooth earbuds and pleated high-efficiency particulate-absorbing (Hepa) air filters.
“This is more than a face mask,” said Roman Poludnev, general manager for Honeywell Safety and Productivity Solutions in the Middle East, Russia, Turkey and Africa.
“It is also an audio device and a fashion accessory.”
Since its release on the market in early 2021, the Xupermask has regularly sold out.
Mr Poludnev said the device offers protection against many biohazards, not only the coronavirus, owing to its active air delivery technology.
“There’s always fresh air coming in, which prevents users from feeling suffocated,” he told The National. “Absolutely no effort is needed from those wearing it to achieve that.”
Aside from its protective purpose, the mask also aims to provide a “unique experience” by serving as a means for both communication and music consumption.
“You no longer have to worry about your voice not being heard when you’re wearing a mask and talking on the phone,” said Mr Poludnev.
The device’s noise cancellation feature makes it easier to converse with a mask on, and its built-in Bluetooth earbuds are an added value to music lovers.
In terms of design, the face mask creators say it was made “for the modern superheroes of today”.
It comes in two colour combinations and has LED lights on the front for a futuristic look.
The smart mask certainly caught the interest of passers-by at the trade show, and delegates regularly stopped to ask about the sleek device.
“We have had very good attendance at Gitex,” Mr Poludnev told The National. “We never miss the event, not even in 2020, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“It is the most important technology event in the wider region, and one of special importance to us too.”