Masks have become one for the checklist whenever you’re heading out. But most of these tend to be simple cloth or material masks that might do the trick of lessening the risk of exposure to the virus, but aren’t the most reliable ones to wear at a crowded airport or even a bus station. The solution? N95 masks which are very secure, but are a nightmare to have on for longer durations.
Well, leave it to consumer tech companies to find you a solution and so they did. The solution? A mask with an N95 filter that has a battery-operated, user rechargeable fan vent with three speeds to choose from, depending on the scale of activity youre up to. The mask I’m referring to is the newly launched Philips Fresh Air Mask than be bought online on Amazon for INR 6,990.
Why would you possible need a mask with a fan?
The second wave of the deadly pandemic may be behind us, but it’s definitely still around. With pollution levels expected to skyrocket over the festive season, a mask capable of filtering pollution and helping you breathe easier, sounds like a worthwhile investment, right?
The Philips Fresh Air Mask, specifically, is a unique take on tech-driven mask solutions to the problem of wearing mask outdoors, at all times. Philips isn’t going overboard and calling this a ‘smart mask’ of sorts because it isn’t one. The ‘tech’ on offer here is fairly simplistic. There’s a built-in fan to help circulate air under the mask better and this mini-fan is powered by a battery that can be recharged using a regular USB adapter.
Since there’s not a lot of components required to be fit in, the Philips Fresh Air mask looks and feels less obnoxious too. The front end of the mask is built of a breathable and premium-looking mesh-like fabric with a device on the inside that’s magnetically held in place. On one side of the said device we have the tiny fan with a silver casing on the front, while the other side house the battery cell with a micro-USB port for charging.
The silver casing on the front has a small button on it that switches the fan inside on/off. A click of the button and you switch on the fan, pressing it twice switches the fan to a more aggressive speed while pressing it a third time takes it to the highest possible speed. While fan noise is fairly low on the first speed, the second and third speeds really let you know that there’s a fan roaring in there.
That said, the mask fits like a glove. And although I was a tad skeptical about the entire thing feel heavy on my face, it didn’t. The fan does a solid job of circulating the air under the mask too, so on hot, sunny days, it feels like a real blessing.
The button, mind you, has an LED ring around it that lights up when the fan is in operation. It also doubles up as a charging indicator when you have it plugged in.
That’s not all there’s to the Philips Fresh Air Mask. There also an inner layer which is essentially a specialised filter that you’re supposed to attached to the back of fan. The two of these layers meld together to give you what Philips claims is 4-layered air filtration for the air you breathe. The inhaled and exhaled air has to pass through this filter, before the fan pushes the exhaled air out.
The exhaled air is blown out by the fan in your mask downwards, which means the particles that are blown out head towards the ground and never remain at breathing level for adults.
The inner layer is what you need to look to replace after a certain amount of use. You’ll get one replaceable filter layer as part of the box, so that’s not an immediate stress even if you live in a very polluted environment. In fact, each layer of the inner mask should last you up to 122 hours, give or take. Usually, your best clues are to actually visually see what the inner layer looks like and the darker it gets, the ever closer you are to replacing it.
As far as battery life is concerned, I could consistently get 3 hours of use while having the fans blow on the second preset speed. If you intend to take this out to the gym or a jog, that should be enough juice to carry you through for a trip to and from, before you plug it back again.
What makes the Philips Fresh Air Mask unique?
For those who engage in activities like jogging, running or even a high-intensity cardio session in the gym, the Philips Fresh Air Mask seems like a perfect solution. Then again, there aren’t too many known alternatives either. There’s the yet to be launched in India LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier but we don’t know when it’ll get here or what the price will be. Also, the Philips Air Mask, the 6000 Series to be specific, will be much simpler in comparison, to use and maintain. Micro USB charging, washable mesh layer and filtering out the PM 2.5 particles.
My only gripe with Philips though is the lack of replacement filters on Amazon at the moment. Given how useful the mask could be in polluted cities, replacement filters should be made easier to find and buy in bulk.