Though restrictions across the world are gradually loosening, many travelers are still anxious about the new realities of air travel. Luckily, engineer and industrial designer Michael Hall (of MicroClimate) envisioned a solution in the form of a wearable helmet he simply calls AIR. This carefully designed headgear provides a more reliable alternative to surgical face masks, with a patent-pending ventilation system equipped with fans that push air through HEPA filters before reaching your nose and mouth.
Filters that qualify as HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter requirements must meet an extremely high standard of efficiency based on the size of particles that can pass through its system. Travelers will be happy to hear that HEPA’s standards—which require the filtering of particles larger than .01 microns in diameter—are high enough to filter out the virus responsible for COVID-19, which is approximately .125 microns in diameter.
Aside from air purification benefits, MicroClimate also solves most of our common face mask issues by attaching at the neck. This is ideal for eyeglasses users tired of foggy lenses and for those who prefer to show off their post-quarantine glow. These features may provide a more comfortable flying experience, although you may want to snack before takeoff as the helmet’s straw feature is still under development. Other current limitations include muffled sound, though the company assures that conversation is clearly understood by those wearing it and those conversing with helmet users.
Fortunately, Beta testing on domestic U.S. flights have not run into issues with TSA despite the helmet not yet receiving approval from the FDA. MicroClimate is currently developing literature to help passengers board flights without helmet-related issues from security.
AIR has a battery life of about five hours with a six-foot-long cable that allows users to continue wearing the mask while charging. It weighs about two pounds and comes with its own secure carrying case. Elements of the helmet are designed for replacement and cleaning, including the HEPA filters that purify the air and the washable liners.
The helmet is currently available for pre-order at $199 USD each and will begin shipping later this month.