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will.i.am Launches $299 Smart Mask

will.i.am has teamed up with Honeywell to launch two versions of a high-tech face mask called the Xupermask, which reportedly combines protection, design and usability.

Priced at $299, The Xupermask was designed by will.i.am, Honeywell and Jose Fernandez, the designer behind Elon Musk's SpaceX suits.

Xupermask is constructed out of innovative materials, including silicone face seal and secured by an elastic strap for comfort and high performance.

Easily adjustable to a variety of face shapes, the accessory is said to have the durability to be worn up to 365 days a year, anywhere in the world.

Xupermask features dual three-speed fans and HEPA filters for enhanced breathability.

Alongside its integrated features, Xupermask boasts active noise cancelling audio and microphone capabilities, Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity, LED day glow lights, a magnetic earbud docking system and is powered by a seven-hour battery.

“We created Xupermask to change the game of our new normal. In this new age of style and security, Xupermask is an uncompromising face mask design with high-tech performance for the modern lifestyle. Alongside Honeywell, we’ve engineered a state-of-the-art Smart Mask to provide function with style,” said will.i.am.

“Xupermask offers wearers cutting-edge design and functionality. Its blend of fashion, technology and function is unparalleled. We are proud to have partnered with will.i.am on this unique and innovative project,” added Darius Adamczyk, chairman and chief executive officer of Honeywell.

Created in two colorways: white/gray/orange and black/black/orange, Xupermask arrives in two ergonomic sizes each including a Xuperkit containing a carrying case, three month supply of HEPA filters, multi-size ear tips, USB-C charging cable, and a fabric mask.

"SARS happened in Japan and Southeast Asia, and they got over it, and they still wear masks," furthered will.i.am.

“We’ve long past looked at shoes as protective gear, but they’re just cultural items that we go out and buy. The mask should have the same type of attention to detail, love and care to where you’re not compromising aesthetics for keeping yourself and other people safe.”

The Xupermask has not yet been FDA cleared or approved but has been authorised by the FDA for emergency use by the general public and by healthcare professionals.

The mask aims to make breathing through a covering easy – hence the HEPA filters.

“This particular Xupermask has a very unique patented filter design, which we’re very proud of that brings, you know, top-notch filtration without sacrificing usability or fashion,” explained John Waldron, CEO of Honeywell’s safety and productivity solutions business. “I think we tried to blend the best of both worlds.”

“When the pandemic broke out, it quickly became clear that masks were going to be a new must-wear item, like shoes or a jacket when it’s cold outside,” added will.i.am.

“It’s about common-sense public safety. First the why: Medical experts and scientists have shown that wearing a mask is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of contagion factors. When masks first became a must, there was a shortage situation, so people started making their own. Rather than looking ‘medical,’ regular people wanted to keep safe and also try to look a bit stylish, a nod to being fashionable and functional.

“From a functionality standpoint, masks have their issues. Your eyeglasses fog up. Masks are hot and stuffy. Talking on your phone is muffled. Your earpods get dislodged or tangled up. And what do you do to avoid contamination when you must take it off to eat or drink while out in public?"

Rather than looking ‘medical,’ regular people wanted to keep safe and also try to look a bit stylish. will.i.am

The rapper and entrepreneur thinks that it’s going to be a long time before the world returns to anything that resembles’ the old normal’.

“Our new normal, while the world continues to battle the virus and get the majority of people around the globe vaccinated, is to continue to include wearing masks. Gathering in public places, like sports stadiums, movie theatres, concerts and air travel will continue to be ‘mask up territory’.”

will.i.am first got interested in tech in school:

“Flash forward, the way I make music is intertwined with technology. AI is a newer, more advanced form of computing that is going to change the way we do everything – driving, authenticating identities, education, criminal justice and many jobs in customer service and clerk-type roles that will eventually go away.

“For every job category that goes away, AI will create a whole class of new roles we don’t even know about yet. One emerging job is teaching computers to recognise the human voice, the tone, the accents and multiple languages. Another role is Bias Prevention – if machines are making decisions, but they are using flawed logic, or contain innate bias, the current state of discriminatory behaviour will just perpetuate itself.”

During the pandemic, will.i.am has been producing, performing and making music.

“Music has been my retreat, a place to focus my concerns and express how I feel about what is going on in the world,” he shared.

“Making music that Black Eyed Peas can share and help lift people’s spirits and spread happiness is important to us. Not traveling as much has actually been great for productivity in terms of producing the Black Eyed Peas first album in eight years and this album includes five mega hit singles. We’ve got really creative and are using technology to perform remotely, and in socially distant safe ways to appear on TV specials and during live events around the world. We are rising up to work around roadblocks that are temporary challenges.

“Traveling less frequently has given me more time to make music, to focus on running my businesses and also finding new ways to harness technology to work around obstacles presented by not being able to gather, perform before a live audience or travel. I'm also spending more time on my personal fitness, working out every day and riding my bike more often. Since going out to eat in restaurants has been interrupted, I'm cooking more at home and have become my own vegan chef!”

The mask will be available from April 8 from Xupermask.com and will ship to to the US, Canada, UK and EU.