Dyson's Zone is a wearable air-purifying set of wireless headphones releasing in 2022

The Dyson Zone is a wearable air-purifying set of wireless headphones set to release in 2022.
The Dyson Zone is the first wearable product from the British tech giant. Photo credit: supplied/Dyson

Dyson has unveiled its first ever wearable product: A combination of a mobile air purifier and a set of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones.

The Dyson Zone is set to go on sale this year and has been designed to protect people from both air and noise pollution while they're out and about in urban environments.

It marks not only the first wearable from the British tech company, but also its first move into audio - specifically, the fiercely competitive Bluetooth headphone market.

However, there's no denying that the Dyson Zone is a unique product that doesn't look quite like anything else currently out there. At least when it's first launched, this is going to be a device that gets noticed in public, with the potential to attract a lot of curious stares.

But its creators are confident the "radical new format" will be a hit with people who give it a go.

"When you actually try it on, that's the 'wow' moment. It's only then you can really appreciate it," Dyson's Head of Category, RDD Environmental Care Tom Bennett told Newshub.

"In the testing sessions people go through the same thought process of, firstly, being surprised at how it looks. Then they try on the headphones and it doesn't feel as heavy as they were expecting. Then we put the visor on and they get that gentle, clean airflow - it really does feel quite amazing.

"I think that's the point at which people are like 'OK, yeah, I get it'."

Dyson says the product is the result of over a decade of air quality research and development, with the wearable purifier able to capture city pollution including gas, allergens and particulate matter while the headphones provide advanced noise cancellation and high-fidelity audio. 

Each earcup has a compressor that draws air through dual-layer filters and projects two streams of purified air to the wearer's nose and mouth, channelled through the non-contact visor.

Audio-wise, the device has neodymium 40mm speaker drivers which the company says offer "low distortion and a neutral frequency response to faithfully replicate music or audio as the creator intended".

Bennett told Newshub Dyson expects the most common user to be someone who lives in a city and commutes often, although they may also be favoured by plane passengers concerned about onboard air quality.

"When you're commuting - walking, on the bus, tube, train or plane - you put your headphones on and you're listening to your music or podcasts. Throughout that time, you want to be protected from the environment around you," he said.

"In cities, particularly when you're in close proximity to a road or in a metro, a lot of the pollution you're breathing in is particulate, things like brake dust. Obviously a lot of the pollution is caused by combustion engines, but a lot also comes from the wear and tear of vehicles, like particulate from tyres which even a move to EVs doesn't resolve.

"We think there won't be that many people living in cities that wouldn't benefit from this product."

Dyson unveils Zone, a wearable air purifier wireless headphones unit.
A Dyson Zone in the laboratory. Photo credit: supplied/Dyson

The Dyson Zone's filters are electrostatic rather than the HEPA filters used in the company's regular purifiers. The negatively charged filters are said to capture 99 percent of particle pollution as small as 0.1 microns such as dust, pollen, bacteria and the common city pollution particles Bennett mentioned, while a potassium-enriched carbon layer captures gas pollutants like NO2 and SO2. 

Users will be able to choose low, medium, high or auto purification modes depending on what's needed in their situation and how they want to conserve battery and filter lifespan.

The noise-cancelling also offers three modes: Isolation, Conversation and Transparency, which are similar to those offered in Sony or Bose wireless ANC headphones. There will also be EQ settings to adjust the sound through an app.

Dyson says in most environments the Zone is used, the noise of the compressors will be inaudible to people next to the wearer. The noise-cancelling system should mean the wearer also can't hear the filtration system, but the seal of the earcups ensures audio doesn't bleed out and annoy people near them either.

Like most wireless headphones, the Dyson Zone has microphones and can be used with a smartphone or computer to have calls or video conferences with people. There are touch controls to cycle through the various modes and control volume or phone calls on the device.

The visor can be flipped up or down to automatically switch between modes, or taken off altogether with the headphones able to be used without the air purifier. Exactly what modes flipping the visor turns off and on can be adjusted through the app.

That visor has been designed as non-contact to "avoid the discomfort and irritation often associated with full-contact alternatives", says Dyson. This means it can't be used as a facemask in places where one is required to use them, nor will it protect the wearer from viruses such as COVID-19.

But a FFP2-compliant face covering can be worn under the visor and one will be included in the box the Dyson Zone ships with.

Dyson has unveiled its first ever wearable product with a combination of a mobile air purifier and a set of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones.
Examples of Dyson Zone prototypes. Photo credit: supplied/Dyson

As it needs to power the air purifier, the Zone has a battery that's bigger than most over-ear wireless headphones. Dyson says if the headphones were used with noise-cancelling on but without the visor attached, you'd get over 40 hours of use out of them.

Turn the air purification on as well and in low airflow mode you'll get around four and a half hours before the battery is drained, the company says. For situations like long-haul flights, the device can be used while plugged in and charging.

It's fast-charge enabled and is said to be able to be charged back up to 60 percent in 20 minutes with its USB-C cable.

Dyson recommends replacing the filters every 12 months, but that may need to be done more frequently if, for example, the device is used often on high airflow mode in an area with very dirty air. The app will tell the wearer when they need to change the filter, too.

Dyson has not said how much Zone is going to cost, but says it will be available to purchase through its website later in the year.