Forget vacuums! Dyson's new Zone headphones are first to block noise and air pollution


Dyson Zone is a one-of-a-kind pair of noise-cancelling headphones that purify the air that you breathe. Just like Dyson’s line of hugely-popular freestanding air purifiers for the home, the Dyson Zone removes air pollution and even airborne viruses. Combined with the wireless noise-cancellation headlines, Dyson says its new headphones are designed to simultaneously tackle “the urban issues of air quality and noise pollution”.

It has taken more than six years and 500 prototypes – all developed in secret within Dyson’s laboratories – to finalise the design of the Zone. A dizzying number of engineering problems could’ve sunk the idea: miniaturising the compressors so they can be worn, ensuring the components are lightweight that it doesn’t put strain on your neck, guaranteeing the noise created by the air purifying process doesn’t ruin your listening experience, eking out enough battery life so the Zone can be used for hours …the list goes on.

However, Dyson believes that it’s finally time to unveil the Zone to the world, with sales set to start later this year.

And the introduction of this never-before-seen product is pretty timely. The World Health Organisation (WHO) now estimates that 9 in 10 people globally breathe air that exceeds what it recommends as guideline pollutant limits. While NO2 pollution in cities did decrease dramatically during the lockdowns triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic, levels have quickly returned to normal – or in some cases, exceeded pre-pandemic levels across global cities. In January 2022, for the first time, people living in London were advised not to exercise outdoors due to high levels of pollution.

Jake Dyson, Chief Engineer said: “Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. In our homes, at school, at work and as we travel, whether on foot, on a bike or by public or private transport. The Dyson Zone purifies the air you breathe on the move. And unlike face masks, it delivers a plume of fresh air without touching your face, using high-performance filters and two miniaturised air pumps. After six years in development, we’re excited to deliver pure air and pure audio, anywhere.”

How does the Dyson Zone work?

Compressors within the earcups of the headphones draw air through dual-layer filters, designed from the ground-up to fit within the considerable space constraints of a headphone. A negatively charged electrostatic filter media captures ultrafine particles such as allergens, and particles from sources such as brake dust, industry combustion, and construction. This system is capable of capturing 99 percent of particle pollution as small as 0.1 microns, such as dust, pollen and bacteria. For context, Covid-19 virus particles on average measure 0.12 microns. Dyson has also fitted a potassium-enriched carbon layer that captures city gas pollutants like NO2 and SO2.

Cleaned from pollutants, allergens and viruses, the air is then funnelled through the visor. Crucially, this doesn’t sit on your nose and mouth, like a snorkel, but instead freely floats just in front of you. Accelerometers within the headphones measure the amount of movement and automatically adjust the amount of airflow accordingly – so, if you start vigorously jogging to catch the last train, the amount of purified air will increase dramatically to meet your needs, before slowing again as you settle down into your seat. You can manually change the air purification between low, medium and high too using a button on the back of the earcup.

The geometries of the visor, combined with a central mesh that diffuses the two jets of airflow, are designed to ensure that purified air will always reach you, even when walking in strong crosswinds. Dyson says the visor is designed to cater to all facial shapes too.

The visor is made of flexible plastic and can be removed if you want to continue using the headphones without the air purifier system. It attaches to the earcups with powerful magnets. Cleverly, the visor can also be dipped – so that it sits under your chin. This automatically turns off the purification to conserve battery power (not to mention that cleaned air would be uselessly fired into your jawline) so that you can have a quick conversation with someone, drink or eat, before going on your way.

Registering your new Dyson Zone within the existing Dyson smartphone app, the company will use your current location to estimate the levels of pollution and suggest when you’ll need to replace the filters in the earcups of your headphones. For those living in the UK, Dyson believes a refresh once-a-year will be enough to shield wearers from pollutants.

And what about the noise-cancellation?

Dyson Zone uses active noise-cancellation to cancel out any background sounds that might ruin your favourite track, podcast, or audiobook. Dyson has fitted the headphones with a number of microphones – including one dedicated to measuring the amount of noise emanating from the motors in the earcups fuelling the air filtration – to determine the low-frequency noise. A second frequency, phase-inverted by 180 degrees, is then played alongside your tunes or podcasts to neutralise all unwanted sounds before they reach your ear.

As a result, you’ll be able listen at much lower volumes, even in loud environments like aeroplanes, trains, trams, and sat beside the photocopier in the office.

Just like a pair of conventional noise-cancellation headphones, Dyson has fitted a number of modes. First up, “Isolation Mode” relies on the highest level of active noise cancellation to provide an immersive audio experience that strips out any distracting background noise from the world around you, “Conversation Mode” kicks in automatically when you dip the visor and uses software to amplify voices so that you can have a natural conversation with someone without removing the Dyson Zone, and finally, “Transparency Mode” is designed to ensure you’re aware of all of your surroundings – it amplifies key sounds like emergency service sirens or informational announcements over the tannoy in airports and train stations.


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