by Peter Franklin
Friday, 9
December 2022
Idea
07:00

Welcome to the Dyson Zone: your isolated world

The latest gadget from the British inventor is dystopian
by Peter Franklin
The Dyson Zone costs a cool $949

At the height of the Covid culture wars, the people who really hated face masks came up with a derogatory name for them: face nappies.

But I wonder if one day we’ll look back on the face nappy era with longing. You see, things can always get worse. Consider, for instance, the latest gadget from Dyson: it’s a pair of noise-cancelling headphones combined with a personal air purifier. Called the Dyson Zone, the earphone cups contain filters, which pass a stream of purified air down to the mouth and nose via an attachable visor. 


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Thus, as well as fighting noise pollution, it also protects the wearer against air pollution. Dyson promised the product earlier this year and is now about to deliver it — but at a cost. According to Engadget and Gizmodo the Dyson Zone could be yours for the price of $949. 

The immediate question is whether anyone will be willing to pay that much. I’ve got a horrible feeling the answer is yes. Dyson is an experienced purveyor of upmarket appliances; if it can persuade us to pay premium prices for vacuum cleaners and hairdryers, it can surely do the same for the Zone. Millions of consumers already spend small fortunes to cancel out other people’s noise — so, for a few hundred dollars more, why not cancel their noxious emissions too?  

One obstacle may be the look of the device. Wearing a highly-engineered piece of tech over your mouth and nostrils is ever so slightly cyborg-y. Comparisons have been made to Bane, a comic book supervillain. But, then again, haven’t we become used to concealing our faces in public? 

What’s more, for many consumers, any embarrassment will be outweighed by the advantages of a personal supply of cleaned-up air: people with respiratory conditions, for instance — or who live in the world’s most heavily polluted cities. Better a red face than black lungs. 

Even in the somewhat de-smogged cities of the West, there’s a growing awareness of the damage done to our health by airborne contaminants. Launching a new report yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that outdoor air pollution kills between 26,000 and 38,000 people in the UK every year. 

It’s possible that, in years to come, breathing unfiltered air will become as unthinkable as drinking untreated water. If that’s the case, then Dyson has got in early on a growing market. 

And yet, despite the genuine benefits this machine could bring to millions, it’s hard to ignore the dystopian aspects. After all, if we have to pay a thousand bucks each just to breathe easy, then we’ve finally realised one of the great sci-fi nightmares: the privatisation of air. 

One could argue that this happened decades ago with the invention of modern air-conditioning. Nevertheless, the advent of personal air filtration represents a new stage in our technological debasement. Breathing hasn’t just been commercialised, but fully individualised — with no need to share.

On the other hand, we could demand the return of something that once belonged to all of us: fresh air. 

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Jim R
Jim R
1 month ago

Our immune systems are anti-fragile. The more you ‘protect’ them from having to contend with threats, the weaker they become. Everyone knows this, and yet we continue to pursue ‘protection’ through masks, obsessive disinfecting and lockdowns. In addition to wearable tech that will turn us all into wheezing darth vaders, pharmaceutical companies will happily attempt to fill the gap with experimental injections to attempt to artificially induce immunity. Sad fact everyone: life is inherently dangerous and inevitably ends in death. Dyson and Phizer will not change that, and attempts to do so often hasten it.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

…as demonstrated by the outbreak of Strep A in children, and quite possibly by much higher mortality rates from seasonal flu viruses this winter.
Along with the vaccine issue, there’s also a huge problem with pathogens having become adept at evading antibiotic therapy, and the race to find new forms of antibiotic will only offset that problem for a few decades at most.

Cassander Antipatru
Cassander Antipatru
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

“It is better to have a stout heart and suffer your share of misfortune than to be constantly worrying about what might happen.” — Herodotus

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim R

I have read somewhere (probably in the New Scientist, but I can’t find the article) that asthma appears to result from too much hygiene – the immune system needs exposure to bacteria (harmless soil bacteria biologically related to the bacterium which causes tuberculosis, seem to be particularly significant).
The study I’m thinking of compared the incidence of asthma in English kids, with the incidence in Polish kids. The English children were more likely to have asthma, and also had less exposure to soil and dirt in general. Although the Polish children in the study were living in an area with high levels of atmospheric pollution, this did not seem to trigger asthmatic attacks, as one might expect.

Tom Lewis
Tom Lewis
1 month ago

Just when you thought creaking ‘public’ health care costs had found a ceiling.
Family from abroad, (Delhi / Manilla / Mexico City / Jakarta / Beijing / Abuja) living in: London / Birmingham / Manchester / Leeds / Glasgow sue local health board, because air pollution, in their publicly subsidised accommodation, is literally ‘killing’ their kids. Demand ‘expensive’ personal’ fresh air visors, the same as those used by ‘rich’ people, to be provided at public expense on National health. Claims, that not doing so, is evidence of systemic race-ism.
Is this a bigoted fantasy, or is it just a question of time before we see this in the news ?

Jonas Moze
Jonas Moze
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Lewis

The good part is it can constantly be administering us what ever drugs in the air one is taking in, that some centralized system thinks good. Put us to sleep at night, wake in the morning, burst of euphoria when we see Big Brother, and some adrenaline/amphetamine when the 10 minute Hate begins. I think society could be improved with these, if used properly.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 month ago

If you think the Dyson Zone is dystopian, wait till he starts selling the Dyson Sphere.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Is this truly in the wings? Too scared to google!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
1 month ago

Please go ahead ahead and google, it’s a solar system sized engineering structure, which humanity will build, once Saudi oil and American shale runs out.
It was just a geeky wordplay which few people will get unless they are scifi fans.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
1 month ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I remember the episode of Star Trek TNG with one of those in it. And Scotty made an appearance. Good times.

Anthony L
Anthony L
1 month ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I look forward to lamenting the state of the world to my great grandchildren when I remind them of the heady days when we’d spend 15 years building a nuclear reactor – none of this century long effort to blot out the sun with metal, just simple British bureaucracy!

Rocky Martiano
Rocky Martiano
1 month ago

“Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that outdoor air pollution kills between 26,000 and 38,000 people in the UK every year.” 
Isn’t that more than died with Covid in the last 12 months? Why hasn’t Whitty called for immediate and indefinite lockdown so that nobody dies from exposure to this killer air?

Last edited 1 month ago by Rocky Martiano
Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
1 month ago
Reply to  Rocky Martiano

Being alive is the biggest cause of death, no one dies without having been alive before

So maybe we should all avoid being alive

Stats are meaningless and covid stats doubley so

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 month ago

Given the eagerness we have seen from ‘progressives’ to wear masks despite their lack of effectiveness, be sure that those that can afford it will embrace it.
Out of the window does child development and healthy social interaction.

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
1 month ago

If you are willing to part with that much money for it, you well deserve it.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
1 month ago

The people who wear such jokes are truly ” purple helmets”…

Steve Elliott
Steve Elliott
1 month ago

There’s an interesting novel by Michael Frayn called “A Very Private Life”. He’s not known for science fiction but this is about a world in which the elite live in sealed accommodation and never go out. Children only play with their friends via computers. Elite adults work and play inside, always. (Does that remind you of something?) Even dinner parties with their friends are carried out virtually. Of course the rest of the people, the outsiders, have to make the world work, producing food, maintaining essential equipment, taking food and supplies to the insiders and so on.
There’s an excellent scene in which the young girl who leaves the sealed pod first comes across soil and realises it’s full of living things.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Elliott
Kevin Dee
Kevin Dee
1 month ago

Strikes me as very uncool like google glasses. Also don’t see why the headphones need to be included, very easy job for thieves.

Mike Carr
Mike Carr
1 month ago

The timing of Whitty’s comments and the release of this thing could be interesting to explore

Zak Orn
Zak Orn
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Carr

Yes… you do have to wonder if Whitty has as many shares in Dyson as he does in the various medical companies that have profited hugely from COVID. There desperately needs to be a public database of the investments of people in positions that can influence public policy like Whitty, unfortunately we all know that will never happen.

Last edited 1 month ago by Zak Orn
Guy Johnson
Guy Johnson
1 month ago

It’s probably not an accident the model is Chinese.
The air quality in their cities could make this a much sought after device.

Jack Tarr
Jack Tarr
1 month ago

The Dyson Zone will be an excellent way for non-users to identify neurotics and OCD sufferers, and take appropriate avoiding action.

Brett H
Brett H
1 month ago

When I rode a motorbike every time I got petrol and went inside to pay I had to remove my helmet. This doesn’t look much different from a helmet.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
1 month ago

Dyson isn’t always successful remember (or not) the Dyson washing machine and it recently(ish) withdrew from developing electric cars. Further there has been the recent development of a an “air mask” which is essentially a cap with an attachment that blasts air in front of your face so it acts as an “invisible” face mask. So while its early days – combining this with a pair of noise cancelling earphones will be a lot cheaper if you want that sort of thing.

David Harris
David Harris
1 month ago
Reply to  Isabel Ward

But where does the air in the ‘blast’ come from?

Last edited 1 month ago by David Harris
Ruthanna Sheffer
Ruthanna Sheffer
1 month ago

I have 4 Dyson’s vacuum cleaners and not one work after 6. -9 months of using them. I have the upright which I paid $699.00 , I have three of the dyson cordless . I have the 6 , 7 and 11 I believe it is. They send me new batteries that do not help me out at all !! Iam very disappointed in the service I have received !! And to spend that kind of money on each vacuum I sure expected much better customer service along with quality service . I’m so disappointed in the quality of the dyson and the service is just as poor as the quality!! I sure would appreciate getting the replacement of my dyson vacuum cleaners . I feel I put a lot of money out for these thinking I was getting top of the line vacuumed but at this time I do not agree with that !!! Please get back with me and make it right !

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
1 month ago

“Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty said that outdoor air pollution kills between 26,000 and 38,000 people in the UK every year.”
If you wonder how Chris Whitty could give us this number, he just made it up. Epidemiologists think they can do that. And they get away with it!

John Riordan
John Riordan
1 month ago

Reminds me a bit of the Google Glass product.