Ground control to Major Tom: Sanitize your hands and put your helmet on. Pandemic gear that looks straight-up celestial has come to Earth.
A new, fully enclosed helmet called Air by Microclimate has been released by Hall Labs, a Utah-based tech, material science, and manufacturing incubator. The helmet looks like what an astronaut might wear to space: Washable black fabric secures it tightly around the neck and attaches to a clear acrylic half-dome, which curves over the face from the back of the head to below the chin. It’s currently available for pre-order for $199, and will ship beginning in mid-October.
Michael Hall, the managing director of Hall Labs, first thought of the idea for a new “wearable” while skiing with his family, according to a Microclimate spokesperson. Hall wasn’t able to see his kids’ faces when covered with ski masks and goggles, and the equipment got wet and cold. So he hatched an idea for this helmet, which creates a “microclimate” around the head. Microclimate then adapted the design when the pandemic hit, the spokesperson says. The company now positions the helmet as a safer and more comfortable way to travel.
The helmet is equipped with a built-in ventilation system powered by fans, so it should be relatively comfy and shouldn’t fog up. Incoming and outgoing airflow is filtered through replaceable HEPA filters, which they say filters 99.97% of particles as small as .03 microns, the same particulate size as an N-95 mask. The helmet weighs about two pounds.
Improvements are in the works, too. The company is further developing the hearing capabilities, which are currently muffled by the fans, according to the website. It’s also looking into adding a straw port so you can drink from your personal bubble. It’s not intended for everyday, medical, or educational use—rather for air travel—and, based on their photos of dudes in suits and peacoats, for young business types specifically. But no need to alert NASA of your plans—this mask is just for air travel here on Earth.