– Dyson launches Bluetooth headphones to capture city pollution

01 April 2022

The Dyson Zone, Dyson’s first wearable purifier, simultaneously tackles urban pollution, including gas, allergens and particulate matter, and cancels unwanted noise.

As the world’s urban population continues to grow, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 9 in 10 people globally breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline pollutant limits. Where NO2 pollution in cities decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic, levels have quickly returned to normal, or exceeded pre-pandemic levels across many global cities. It is estimated that more than 100m people, around 20% of the European population, are exposed to long-term noise exposure above WHO guidance.

“Air pollution is a global problem – it affects us everywhere we go. In our homes, at school, at work and as we travel, whether on foot, on a bike or by public or private transport. The Dyson Zone™ purifies the air you breathe on the move. And unlike face masks, it delivers a plume of fresh air without touching your face, using high-performance filters and two miniaturised air pumps. After six years in development, we’re excited to deliver pure air and pure audio, anywhere,” said Jake Dyson, Chief Engineer.

Six years & 500 prototypes

The compressors in each earcup draw air through the dual-layer filters and project two streams of purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth, channelled through the non-contact visor. Sculpted returns on the visor ensure the purified airflow is kept near to the nose and mouth and diluted as little as possible by external crosswinds. The Dyson Zone delivers rich, immersive audio and relief from unwanted city noise, thanks to advanced active noise canceling (ANC), low distortion and a neutral frequency response, to faithfully replicate music or audio as the creator intended.

Originally a snorkel-like clean air mouthpiece paired with a backpack to hold the motor and inner workings, the Dyson Zone air-purifying headphones evolved over its six years in development. More than 500 prototypes saw one motor initially placed at the nape become two compressors, one in each ear cup and the evolution of the snorkel mouthpiece into an effective, contact-free visor that delivers clean air without full-face contact – a brand-new clean air delivery mechanism.

Developing a non-contact solution was a must for Dyson engineers, to avoid the discomfort and irritation often associated with full-contact alternatives. The visor, therefore, was a critical element. The airflow pathways and visual design are central to delivering pure air. The geometries of the visor and the visor returns, alongside the central mesh that diffuses the two jets of airflow, ensure that the purified air exiting the filters is effectively delivered to the nose and mouth in crosswinds, and for the wearer’s specific facial shape.

Going beyond existing testing methods, Dyson engineers use a breathing manikin fitted with medical-grade mechanical lungs and sensing equipment, which ‘inhales’ pollution replicating human breathing patterns in a controlled chamber. They then measure the pollution level within the nose and throat to determine the filtration efficacy of those particles which would otherwise end up in Frank’s artificial lung.

Precision-engineered compressors within the earcups draw air through the dual-layer filters, intelligently designed to fit within the considerable space constraints of a headphone. The negatively charged electrostatic filter media captures ultrafine particles such as allergens, and particles from sources such as brake dust, industry combustion and construction whilst a potassium-enriched carbon layer captures city gas pollutants like NO2 and SO2. The compressor channels the purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth via the contact-free visor, formed with flexible returns that to channel the flow of purified air to the wearer’s nose and mouth.

A scientific approach

A first foray into the world of audio, Dyson engineers took a scientific approach, choosing not to rely on a ‘golden listener’ approach that many others do. Dyson’s team of audio engineers and acousticians sought to engineer excellent audio led by metrics, backed up by extensive listening trials. The result: pure, rich audio and advanced noise cancellation.

Through solving a problem of Dyson’s own creation, the engineers have developed an advanced noise cancellation system.

Together, the device’s passive attenuation and the ANC, with its unique array of microphones, reduces unwanted environmental noise and the motor tones to provide advanced noise cancellation at home, at work and on the go.

The app development and integration was a critical project to ensure a smooth connection journey and provide intelligent, meaningful air and noise pollution tracking features.


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