Will.i.am and Honeywell make bet on fashionable high-tech face masks
As society emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Will.i.am is betting people will keep using that protective gear such as facial coverings.
The rapper and entrepreneur announced Tuesday he teamed up with Honeywell to bring two versions of a high-tech face mask called the Xupermask. The mask combines protection, design and usability into one product, according to Will.i.am.
The founding member of the Black Eyed Peas suggested the masks, which go on sale Wednesday, would be valuable to consumers much like a pair of Air Jordan shoes is to sneakerheads.
“We’ve long past looked at shoes as protective gear, but they’re just cultural items that we go out and buy,” Will.i.am told CNBC’s Jim Cramer in a “Mad Money” interview. “The mask should have the same type of attention to detail, love and care to where you’re not compromising aesthetics for keeping yourself and other people safe.”
The mask also aims to make breathing through a covering easy. That’s where John Waldron and his team at Honeywell come in to supply HEPA filters. Waldron is CEO of Honeywell’s safety and productivity solutions business..
“This particular Xupermask has a very unique patented filter design, which we’re very proud of that brings, you know, top-notch filtration without sacrificing usability or fashion,” he said. “I think we tried to blend the best of both worlds.”
will.i.am Debuts Innovative Face Technology Concept, XUPERMASK
The Xupermask retails for $299, and Will.i.am argues the value is in the functionalities and fashionability of the protective technology. It’s embedded with features like LED lights, 3-speed fans and noise-canceling headphones that seek to solve a list of complaints that make facial covering uncomfortable for many people.
Will.i.am described the masks as having a “futuristic sci-fi film” inspiration, which was brought by designer Jose Fernandez, the Ironhead Studio creative artist behind mask designs for Spiderman, Black Panther and Tron.
“I think people will continue to wear masks and [if] masks like the Xupermask have other functionality, I think you’re going to [be] giving people an option,” Will.i.am said.