Will.i.am, founder of the Black Eyed Peas, is launching a $ 299 skin, complete with noise-canceling headphones, with help from N95 maker Honeywell.
Because it is important: The rapper and entrepreneur is betting people will splurge on an upgraded face cover as a fashion statement and for its wearable tech gadget, even as the pandemic dies down and the pace of vaccines picks up.
The intrigue: Will.i.am tells Axios that he has been thinking about this kind of hyped mask since the start of the pandemic. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff helped negotiate the Honeywell connection after seeing previous prototypes of the mask. (He has known Benioff for 15 years).
Details: The “Xupermask” (pronounced supermask) comes with Honeywell HEPA ventilation filters, designed for home use, not medical. It has bluetooth connectivity and comes with a headphone connection system.
- It launches Thursday and will be sold directly to customers online.
- Will.i.am says it has not yet had discussions with any retailers to sell the mask, although it is a possibility “as we prepare for the holidays.”
The backdrop: Some states have removed mask mandates, although large companies still require them for the most part.
- The CDC recently said that inoculates can socialize indoors without a mask with low-risk or other vaccinated individuals. But he still recommends that they mask themselves in public.
What they are saying: “I wish it wasn’t the case, but the masks will be here for a while,” Will.i.am tells Axios.
- The question is how many will shell out big bucks for a high-tech face shield, or opt for a cloth or paper mask with the same sufficient protection.