Even before the pandemic, face masks were increasingly an option for anyone trying to avoid allergens, particulate matter, and other air impurities. The pandemic ushered increased innovation into the space, as joggers, cyclists, travelers, and essential workers sought comfortable mask-wearing solutions in active or all-day situations. Inevitably, like the watches, shoes, clothing, eyeglasses, and other wearables before them, masks got the “smart” treatment.
Though AirPop has been developing and releasing high-performance filtration masks since 2015, it kicked things up a notch earlier this year when it unveiled the AirPop Active + Face Mask, which has a built-in “Halo” sensor that tracks breathing. It then syncs via Bluetooth to a mobile app phone that mixes that data up with real-time, location-based air quality information to deliver insights such as breathing frequency and blocked pollutants. The company today announced that the mask is now available for immediate shipment, with arrivals between three and six days.
Sensor aside, the mask has some distinct design and material elements that distinguish it from the usual cloth and disposable masks. The outer shell, for example, is a 3D-engineered, single piece of specialized microfiber fabric that’s fully washable, light, and optimized for easy breathing with strong filtration. Its dome-like design not only makes it easier to breathe when worn, but also fits a second replaceable nanofiber filter made of the same materials as N95 and KN95 masks, with the addition of a rubberized, soft-membrane seal that is designed to fit snugly but comfortably over a wide variety of face shapes.
In addition to delivering stats on breathing patterns and air quality, the companion app for Android and iOS has a filter monitor that notifies you when the filter’s 40-hour-life span is up and needs to be replaced (just scan a QR code and the clock will start and continue any time you wear the mask). It also lets you change the color of the sensor’s light, which flashes subtly along with your breathing. The iOS version of the app integrates with Apple Health, so you can add breathing stats to your other iPhone body metrics. The Android version of the app will be available at the end of this month.
According to AirPop, the mask achieves 99-percent bacterial and particle filtration—allergens, dander, dust, pollution, and even viral droplets—but it’s not certified by the FDA as a medical mask, so if you’re traveling on a plane or need a mask for extended wear inside around strangers, you may still want to consider bringing along a KN95 or N95 mask as well, since they remain the more proven and standardized options for protection against viruses. For now, the sweet spot of the AirPop Active + remains allergens and pollution in everyday and fitness contexts, all of which will be around long after COVID-19 subsides.
As of today, the AirPop Active + Face Mask is available in a black/green color combination directly from AirPop and also on Amazon. Two additional color pairings—white/green and yellow/grey—will be available in April.