It wouldn’t be CES — virtual or otherwise — without some weird-arse concept products. And since they’ve spent a good chunk of 2020 manufacturing masks from their Singaporean production lines, it only makes sense that Razer would make a mask with RGB lighting.
It’s called Project Hazel, which Razer is pitching as “the world’s smartest mask”. I’m sure a few companies will take umbrage at the label. Regardless, the idea is to create an N95 mask with detachable ventilators, support for replaceable filters and a design that helps work around some of the social issues faced by a mask-wearing public.
One of those issues, for instance, is not being able to see people’s facial expressions. Project Hazel works around this — and Razer showed this off via a prototype in an embargoed briefing — by having a transparent design so the other person can see more of your mouth (and face) while talking. There’s even two small blue lights within the mask, so when you’re talking to someone in a darker environment, they’ll be able to get a sense of what you’re saying — even if the effect makes you look a little like Morgan Yu.
Another big social problem with masks: muffled voices. Razer’s VoiceAmp technology works to counter that, using a microphone and amplifier to boost your voice through the disc-type ventilators so you’re easier to understand.
Obviously, it wouldn’t be a Razer product without RGB. “For extra user entertainment and style, wearers can activate two customisable Razer Chroma RGB lighting zones offering 16.8 million colors and a suite of dynamic lighting effects,” Razer said in a release.
Unlike a lot of CES concepts — including ones Razer has shown in the past — there’s a good chance this will get greenlit for full production. Razer has been manufacturing a ton of masks to help with the COVID pandemic — their basic surgical masks have the #forsingaporeansbysingaporeans hashtag at the top. Their experience and retooling isn’t going to become worthless over the next year, especially as large parts of the Western world become more accustomed to the mask-wearing life.
There’s even a self-sanitising case for Project Hazel that acts as a wireless charging box. And you’ll need the wireless charging not just for the RGB lighting, but for the active ventilation that’s controllable through an app.
Something Razer couldn’t confirm, however, was whether Project Hazel would use industry-standard reusable filters. They told Kotaku Australia during an embargoed briefing that they were still working out whether to use proprietary filters or industry standard ones. Hopefully it’s the latter, because that’ll make living with the mask a lot easier.
There’s no word on when Razer’s RGB mask will go into full production. CES concept devices don’t really work like that — they’re more aspirational devices, at least most of the time, with ideas and implementations that often end up in future products down the line. Project Hazel has a good chance of making it over the line though, and if we get an official date, availability or pricing, we’ll let you know.