Understandably, mask tech is having a moment. There’s whatever Razer’s doing with its RGB mask, and there were more than a few at this year’s CES. But of all of them, this cyberpunk egg mask makes me wonder, “Have we possibly gone too far?”
The mask, which is dubbed Blanc, is purportedly a “full-face modular mask” that filters air through two “high-efficiency, reusable, and replaceable HEPA filters” that last up to 14 days. It, uh, also has a one-way visor, adjustable straps, and 100+ magnetic panels and visors. So, in case the futuristic monochrome egg aesthetic just isn’t cool enough, you could go wild and snap on a leopard print panel.
While it kind of looks like a helmet from the front, the Blanc apparently is actually two vertical parts with an adjustable headband in the back. To put it on, you apparently mush the mask’s two halves over your face using a “face wash gesture”. It also purportedly “adjusts” to your individual anatomical features, which, hm, big if true. The mask also supposedly has “open-sourcing aspects” and the company behind it says they’re developing an “ecosystem of mask upgrades, from voice modulators to Bluetooth headsets, HUDs, and augmented reality systems.” The idea is to be able to “upgrade” the mask via future add-ons.
Listen, I’m all for a cool cyberpunk future where we all look like reject Daft Punk members circa 2013. The marketing photos are a meme in the making. I mean, who doesn’t want a giant egg mask after looking at this sci-fi movie poster of a promotional image of the mask floating over a city. Who among us wouldn’t want to look like they were cosplaying the Eve robot from Wall-E while grocery shopping?
But who, truly who is asking for a mask like this? Generally, the mask tech we’ve seen so far looks more or less like their surgical or cloth counterparts. For example, the AirPop Active+ with Halo Sensor can track your breathing data and connects to your phone over Bluetooth. Meanwhile, others, like the Maskfone feature wireless earphones and microphones to solve mask-related problems like muffled phone calls. They’re a lot more practical, and less...egg-like.
Apparently, more than 3,700 people have decided to spend real money on this, if Blanc’s press release is to be believed. The mask has raised over $400,000 on Kickstarter, and currently has an Indiegogo campaign running as well. Crowdfunded gadget projects like this always run the risk of becoming vaporware, and given the fact that vaccine rollouts have already begun, I’m not too sure how long the high-tech mask market will last. That said, the company claims they plan to ship in March.
I, personally, would be curious to try this cyberpunkish dystopia tech, mainly because I’m irony-poisoned and would do anything for the blog. But if someone is truly, genuinely interested in this sort of thing, I beg you. Please, explain the appeal of the egg mask to me.