Let’s just get this out of the way: We thought this was a joke, but it appears to be very real. The product is called AIR by a new company started by Michael Hall called MicroClimate.
Based on the videos, the idea here seems to be focused on how to protect yourself from coronavirus air during extended trips on airplanes, buses, and rideshare trips. But come one, let’s be honest, this looks like a science fiction parody.
The suspicion about this product is rooted in two things: the design of the product itself (isn’t this the SpaceX helmet??), and the deadpan delivery of Hall, who has the look of a clever jokester with a brilliant but subtle play on the public’s 2020 anxiety.
All that said, until we know otherwise, let’s show some respect and give this guy the benefit of the doubt. Why? Well, Hall actually has a bank of videos of his other inventions dating back to 2017. And those videos are pretty dry and show all the hallmarks of an inventor obsessed with solving a problem. Therefore, enough schadenfreude, we think the MicroClimate AIR helmet is very damn real.
But is it practical? Would you wear it in public? Remember, just six months ago, even wearing a mere surgical mask on the street would get you chuckles from strangers. So even with all the dangers inherent in the current pandemic, are you really ready to don what looks like a space helmet to protect yourself?
You’ll have to make that call, but if you’re interested, here’s what the AIR device offers: removable washable fabric, a six-foot USB-C charging cable, four hours of battery life, a microfiber cloth for cleaning, and, of course, a carrying case.
All this pandemic protection can be yours for $199. The Utah-based company began selling the device this month. Or, if you’re really ready to board a plane with next-level protection — trouble looks from strangers be damned — you can just pick up a 3M full face respirator for just $140 online.
Sure, the 3M device isn’t as fancy as the MicroClimate AIR helmet, which has an electronic venting system (which helps to prevent the transparent faceplate from fogging up), but at least the 3M name has a track record you can refer to if you’re concerned about trying something.
Still, 2020 is so full of varying levels of chaos, it’s actually pretty refreshing to see someone just hunker down and try to offer a solid solution for those looking to use tech to protect themselves. Good job, Mr. Hall, keep inventing!
Cover image via MicroClimate