Project Hazel started out as a concept to explore how tech could improve the traditional face mask, but now Razer is taking that idea and turning it into something you can actually buy by making Project Hazel a real product.
Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan confirmed the move to turn Project Hazel into a proper retail device during an interview with Yahoo Finance, saying “We’ve realized that even with vaccinations we are hearing you still have to be masked up because there is still the risk factor that even if you’re vaccinated you still need to be incredibly careful.”
Tan also added that while many countries have been able to procure covid-19 vaccines for their residents, people in other regions or countries may not get access to the vaccine for another year or two. Furthermore, in places like Asia where wearing a mask was already rather common even before covid-19 hit, Razer’s more substantial masks would seem to offer a more permanent solution to typical disposable paper masks or even reusable cloth alternatives.
Although Razer has yet to set a price or official release date for its mask, Project Hazel (or whatever the final name ends up being) is expected to include a hard transparent plastic shell with replaceable N95 filters built into either side, along with embedded lighting to help illuminate your face in the dark, and Razer’s VoiceAmp tech to make sure people hear your speech loud and clear.
Finally, in addition to replaceable N95 filters, Project Hazel is also expected to come with a rechargeable disinfecting case that uses UV light to sanitize the mask and top up the mask’s integrated battery between uses. Oh, and because it’s a Razer product, Project Hazel also comes with support for Chroma RGB, so you can change the lights on the outside of the mask to suit your mood.
In the end, even if you think the idea of a smart face mask is silly, Razer committing to turn Project Hazel into a real product is yet another sign of how the pandemic continues to reshape what people consider normal. And even after large parts of the population gets vaccinated, the desire for more substantial protection from airborne illnesses seems quite prudent, though I’m still not sold on the need to make the outside of the mask transparent.