It was one of those embargo days where you could sense there were colleagues just itching to hit ‘Publish’ on the big news they’d been keeping secret.

When the moment arrived and a thousand newspapers, blogs and video channels revealed the Dyson Zone headset / air purifier, it was clear that Dyson had been aiming to drop this product to gain maximum impact with a capital IMPACT.

Journalists had first been briefed back in February. Why such a long wait? Two days too short for an epic April Fools joke, so only Dyson really knows. But now we’re privvy to a product that has been in the making since way, way, way before a pandemic raised the idea that we should all probably (a) wear masks to reduce viral infections in public and (b) air quality and ventilation have a big role to play in the future of everyday life.

6 years of research.
500 prototypes.

One bizarro looking multipurpose headset that would make a Google Glasshole blush.

Dyson is a powerhouse of a design firm that has excelled at letting function lead to beautifully utilitarian forms. In vacuum cleaners. And dryers.

But this is something we wear on our faces. I’m really not sure how many people are eager to invest in something like this to replace their AirPods and an N95 certified mask.

Important note: the Dyson Zone is blowing air past your mouth and nose but not creating any kind of seal to protect your lungs from viral particles. The details talk about breathing cleaner air, but there’s no claims about how well this works to protect from viral airbornes or other particulates. It’ll be very interesting to see what measurements we get on that front ahead of final launch.

Dyson is also all about iteration, so I fully expect this will evolve quickly if more than five people want to buy one. And the very nature of this announcement – no price, just a sign up page to ‘learn more’ – is an exercise in market research ahead of availability in six months time.

I’m wondering if this needs to lead to a partnership between Dyson and Razer. To marry the clever ideas in Razer’s Zephyr face mask that features LED lights and a clear mouth area that actually offers accessibility benefits like lip reading – as well as really embracing a Cyberpunk aesthetic with the cool lights as part of the deal.

Maybe this Dyson Zone is just a bit too stiff upper lip British at the same time as it needs to convince buyers to wear a radically different kind of device on their faces for the full Bane effect.

It just seems like too many engineers are staking a claim on wearables without getting the aesthetic designers and psychologists involved.

OK, as much as I’m really not in love with this one, I do adore seeing bona fide ‘Version One’ products getting launched. I do love companies that let the engineers just go for it. We need crazy ideas to create space for the ‘right’ solution to emerge through that iteration process.

Thanks, Dyson.
Your work is valued.
But I think I’ll buy the next one.
(Or the one after that…)


Newsworthy

A brain implant enables a completely paralysed ALS (MND in Australia) patient to communicate with words. (Extreme Tech)
A 34-year-old man with ALS in Germany is now able to spell out messages thanks to a brain-computer interface connected to a chip in his motor cortex. An awesome innovation he put to the ultimate test: asking for a beer.

Facebook / Meta hired a right-wing PR firm to push anti-TikTok stories into American regional newspapers (Washington Post)
Viral TikTok teencrime stories found to be fabricated by a Republican PR firm hired by Meta. (BoingBoing)
This is some dirty, dirty stuff. A bunch of those nasty challenges you’ve probably heard about on TikTok? Actually concocted as rumours on Facebook to feed this smear campaign. But, hey, still better than doing nothing about genocide.

Grand theft crypto: NFT Pokemon-like game Axie Infinity loses US$600 million following hacker exploit. (VICE)
In one of the largest crypto hacks to date, an Axie Infinity security breach on the Ronin Network blockchain enabled someone to swipe a whole lot of Ethereum and USDC. This was the most successful ‘play-to-earn’ crypto game to date. Was…

Also in the news:


Brain food

How to stop doomscrolling – with psychology (Wired)
It’s all tied up in our the worst parts of FOMO, so here’s some good tips on taking back some controlling over smashing our brains against the wall of too much bad news day in, day out.

New Nvidia tech turns a few photos into 3D scenes in seconds. (Nvidia)
Welcome to NeRF, or neural radiance fields! Nvidia has shown how neural networks can render realistic 3D scenes based on just a few still photos from different angles. In gaming, to nerf is to weaken. Here, NeRF is very much the opposite!

25 years of the Internet Archive — the organisation behind the online preservation hub Wayback Machine — and it’s still going strong. (Nieman Lab)
Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive founder and legend of the digital realm, gives a great interview about all things internet: digitising knowledge, archiving news, and even commentary on Australia’s recent media deals with Facebook and Google.

The legacy of film cameras lives on. (PetaPixel)
A good piece that offers a solid reminder that if you’ve got an old film camera gathering dust in storage, hang onto it. Digital photography tech evolves rapidly and makes older forms of digital media obsolete, but film cameras are holding their usefulness – and their value – far longer.


Hot deals

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite with Alexa Voice Remote Lite $23.60 (was $59). A cheap and simple way of adding smart TV and voice functionality to any HD TV.

PlayStation Store’s Easter Sale is on now until 13 April. Some of our picks:

  • Destiny 2: The Witch Queen expansion PS4/PS5 $47.96 (was $59.95)
  • Demon’s Souls PS5 $77.46 (was $124.95)
  • Tales of Arise PS4/PS5 $59.97 (was $99.95)
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition PS4 $12.47 (was $24.95)
  • Moving Out PS4 $7.73 (was $30.95)

Downtime

Ghostwire Tokyo’s virtual tourism astounds more than its generic open world.
The spooky Bethesda-published game has incredible attention to detail in producing a gorgeous uninhabited Tokyo to explore in first-person. As Akito, you forge an uneasy alliance with a mysterious magical being to hunt down the masked figure who took off with your sister. Although it quickly gets bogged down in formulaic open-world quest design, Ghostwire Tokyo excels in creating supernatural intrigue through its generous references to Japanese history and folklore. Although unsettling, it rarely delves into horror, so even weenies like myself (Chris) can play it. Oh, and there are lots of cats and dogs to pat along the way — heck yeah.

New PlayStation Plus era, but we don’t get cloud streaming. (Kotaku Australia)
PlayStation’s long-rumoured upgrade to its subscription service is official: PlayStation Plus will split into three different tiers, with different options giving on-demand access to games from PS1 through to PS5. We don’t have any local pricing yet, and because we won’t have access to cloud streaming, we miss out on PS3 games. Boo.

GDC 2022 was a divisive environment for game developers. (Digital Trends)
For the first physical Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco since the pandemic, there were many competing views on where the future of gaming belongs. Web3, NFTs, and the metaverse certainly divided opinions.

More downtime:


Just plain cool

Utterly ridiculous (and super cool) pop culture coins from the NZ Mint. (Gizmodo)
Who wants round coins anymore anyway? Global nerd collectors ahoy.

This photographer nailed these Back to the Future Lego photos. (PetaPixel)
A masterclass in light painting and smoke effects at small scale. BRB: calculating what 88mph is at 1:32.


Quality tweets


Thanks for reading Byteside! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

Share this post