Frankly, the most surprising thing about the PuriCare is that more tech companies haven’t launched a similar product in recent months. LG is showing it off as part of the upcoming IFA press conference in Berlin — though the company is opting for a virtual presence at this year’s show.
There’s a lot going on in the press release for the “wearable air purifier.” As it notes, “LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier resolves the dilemma of homemade masks being of inconsistent quality and disposal masks being in short supply. The PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier employs two H13 HEPA filters, similar to the filters used in the company’s home air purifier products.”
The company seemingly goes out of its way not to mention COVID-19. After all, specific health claims are often subject to different regulations. It’s true, of course, that masks have, at various points, been in short supply during the pandemic. And likely that was the case when LG really started pushing the idea in earnest.
That said, it’s also worth noting that even professionally made masks offer a pretty wide range of efficacy against the virus’s transmission. There are plenty of questions here. For starters, the filter and the question of how effective it might potentially be for both the wearer and the people around them. The latter, after all, is the real argument for wearing masks — to protect the people around.
LG’s response to the COVID-19 question defers to potential future approval; “We’re waiting until further testing is complete before we’re able to share full details.” Hopefully we’ll get some more concrete answers before it goes on sale in “the fourth quarter in select markets.” Though there are certainly non-coronavirus-related reasons to wear a mask, including pollution and other environmental contaminants.
Also worth asking is what happens when the battery runs down. The mask is capable of running eight hours on “low” and two hours on “high,” courtesy of an on-board 820mAh battery, according to figures from LG. But stuff happens. Sometimes you’re out longer than expected, or maybe you just forgot to charge it in full before leaving the house.
There are two H13 HEPA filters on-board, similar in nature to the kind the company uses for its in-home air filtration system. There are also UV-LED lights designed to kill bacteria — an added level of protection beyond the filtration system. In addition to the aforementioned home filtration systems, LG also manufacturers UV light wands for disinfecting purposes. The company has been working on a lot of this stuff already and clearly saw an opportunity to capitalize on it in mask form.
There’s a fair bit of on-board technology, including the ability to regulate the speed of the filtration based on the wearer’s breath. Overkill? Almost certainly. From the looks of the images, it’s also potentially cumbersome. And then there’s the matter of the still unknown price.