Dyson is considering developing a wearable air purifier that could double as a pair of headphones, hoping to tap demand from pollution-choked cities in Asia, people with knowledge of the project said.
The UK company submitted patents for a “wearable air purifier” this year, according to filings to the UK Intellectual Property Office. The gadget is primarily an air purifier, but headphone capabilities may be added, two people said. They asked not to be identified because the project is private.
Floor-standing air purifiers are big business in Asia. There are even a few versions available that can be worn around the neck, with a limited number listed on Amazon.com.
Best known for its vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, Dyson Ltd. has been expanding its increasingly popular line of floor-standing air scrubbers. In November, it launched the latest version: a purifying fan-heater. But the headphone market would mark a leap for Dyson, pitting it against Apple Inc.’s AirPods and Beats and high-end gadgets from the likes of Bose and Sennheiser.
“Dyson never comments on technology we may or may not be developing,” a company spokeswoman said. Dyson files a large number of patents for products that may never make it to mass production. In 2009, it filed for a hydraulic food juicer that has yet to emerge as a final product.
However, the potential to market a wearable purifier to consumers in smog-filled Chinese cities could be a major driver for the project. Chinese President Xi Jinping has declared pollution one of the government’s three most pressing problems. Asia has been instrumental to Dyson’s recent rapid growth: revenue increased 40 percent to $4.6 billion in 2017, almost doubling in two years. Asia generated almost three-quarters of Dyson’s revenue growth that year, with Shanghai the top-selling city for its purifiers.