MANILA - The LG PuriCare Wearable Air Purifier is probably one of the best gadgets anyone can have amid the ongoing pandemic.
This “smart mask” uses the latest electronics and medical-grade filters to make sure that its user breathes clean air, sifting out pollutants, allergens, bacteria and even virus-carrying particles, according to LG.
The Korean electronics giant however does not claim that this gadget can prevent anyone from getting COVID-19. That’s probably the last thing any tech company would claim no matter how advanced their product may be.
What LG does say is that the mask has a 97.3 percent “virus removal performance” based on tests conducted by TUV Rheinland Korea in May last year.
When it was first announced last year, the Puricare Wearable caused a stir among tech journalists, coming as it did at the height of the global COVID-19 lockdowns. Tech pundits hailed it as just the right kind of personal tech amid the pandemic.
This electronic face mask uses H13 HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters to block out more than 99 percent of the pollution in the air, including bacteria and virus-carrying particles, according to LG. These filters are the same ones used in clinics and hospitals.
But unlike regular masks, which can make breathing a bit more difficult, this smart mask uses battery-powered fans to suck in air and make breathing under a mask much easier.
Sensors also detect the rate of breathing and adjust the fans’ interval and speed to match the user’s respiration.
However, when it first came out last year, some users said that the mask muffled speech, making it a bit more difficult for others to understand what the user was saying.
LG’s second-generation PuriCare Wearable adds a mic and speaker. The new model no longer muffles your voice, and you may even sound better when speaking compared to when you wear a standard facemask.
The Puricare Wearable requires some assembly out of the box. You need to install the 2 HEPA filters on each side of the mask.
Then you install the cloth-like inner cover which filters the air you exhale. Finally, you install the silicone faceguard, which conveniently attaches to the unit using magnets.
You also need to charge Puricare Wearable before you can use it. Charging takes around 2 hours, but after that, you can use it for a full 8 hours.
At 126 grams, the mask is heavier than normal masks and may cause discomfort after prolonged usage. Fortunately, the device also comes with a strap extender that wraps around the back of the head, for a more secure and comfortable fit.
A power button at the bottom activates the mask. Press it for at least 2 seconds to activate the unit. You can hear the fans whirring once activated as they suck in air, almost Darth Vader-like.
To use the voice feature, press the power button again.
There’s also Bluetooth connectivity for LG’s upcoming app for the mask. But as of this posting, the app has yet to be released.
LG recommends that the filters be changed after 30 days of use. It’s also advisable to replace the inner cover after a day of use, like you would with a normal face mask. All of these can be ordered online.
After testing the Puricare Wearable for several days, I can say that I definitely breathe easier using this compared to a normal facemask.
At P8,999 it is a bit pricey. It definitely costs more than the contraptions some people wear around their necks, which the Department of Health has deemed practically useless.
The LG PuriCare Wearable meanwhile has been certified by TUV Rheinland Korea, SGS, as well as the British and Korean allergy foundations.
This smart mask is not an absolute necessity amid the pandemic. People who use this should also not become complacent, thinking it’s some kind of force shield that repels viruses.
But the PuriCare Wearable is definitely better than a normal mask as it lets you breathe more normally, and doesn’t muffle your voice when you speak.
Even when the pandemic ends and people are no longer required to wear masks, the PuriCare may still come in handy considering the air pollution in Metro Manila.
I tested the standard white version of the mask, but it also comes in a more rugged-looking black colorway.