LG adds microphone and speakers to its air-purifying mask, launching next month

LG has announced an updated version of its high-tech, air-purifying facemask, the horribly named LG PuriCare portable air purifier. The company has not announced pricing or widespread availability, but says the PuriCare will launch in Thailand next month “and other markets will follow once approved by local regulators.” Between the ongoing pandemic and widespread air pollution, there is reason to believe that there will be demand for these types of products.

LG first announced the mask last year, which uses replaceable air filters and built-in fans to filter the air. LG says the new version has a smaller and lighter motor, as well as built-in microphones and speakers that amplify the wearer’s voice. (Video of the original mask shows that it muffled speech quite effective.) The latest technology, which LG calls VoiceON, “automatically recognizes when users are talking and amplifies their voice through the built-in speaker.”

LG isn’t the first company to put this kind of voice-amplification technology in a face mask, with Razer’s Project Hazel mask (which is expected to arrive in limited quantities later this year) featuring a similar lineup. Razer’s mask also has LED lighting, so take that one, LG.

The new LG PuriCare mask weighs 94 grams, has a built-in 1,000 mAh battery and charges via USB in two hours. LG claims it’s comfortable enough to wear for up to eight hours at a time, but in my experience no mask is really comfortable after a few hours.

Specifically, LG does not claim that the mask will protect against the novel coronavirus in any way, although it pointed out that this was the case when it first announced the product. It is true that some air purifying filters do catch particles the size of the virus that causes COVID-19, but without scientific studies on this particular product or more details on the type of filters it uses, we cannot and should not make any claims about its efficacy in this regard. However, a mask is definitely better than no mask, and the best mask is one that you enjoy wearing.

Anyway, welcome to 2021: we’re doing spec updates on face masks now.