A wearable air purifier which kills viruses by disinfecting air with UV light has been launched as a hi-tech alternative to face masks.
The futuristic Respiray – which is worn round the neck like a collar – has been proven to eliminate 99% of bacterias and viruses.
The battery-charged device takes in unfiltered air and runs it through two UV ‘disinfection modules’ before blowing the purified air to the front of the wearers’ face.
The £240 invention removes the need to cover the face or restrict breathing, allowing wearers to freely show facial expressions as normal.
The electronic purifier boasts three fan-speeds for different environments.
The lowest fan-speed purifies air at a rate of 25 litres per minute, whilst the highest purifies up to 55 litres – around four times more than the average resting human breathes.
Magnetic face shields can be attached to the front to provide extra protection, and the product has an eight-hour battery life.
Robert Arus, chief operating officer at Estonia-based company Respiray, explains: ‘The pandemic was the catalyst for this project; it can effectively fight against the various mutations and strains of Covid and other respiratory illnesses.
‘We use UV light in a very unique way: the purifier takes in unfiltered air through two UV disinfection modules and blows the virus-free air into the wearer’s face, purifying up to 55 litres of air per minute.
‘It’s a well-known fact that UV light has a disinfectant functionality.
‘We created a multitude of prototypes and in August last year the most successful version was sent for lab experiments.
‘When we received results from the tests we ran, we were astonished. It was above and beyond our calculations; we knew we had found something big.’
The product had originally been envisioned for the use of frontline workers, but the company say their products are also widely used by teachers across Estonia.
Mr Arus said: ‘At first frontline workers were our main focus groups, but then we were contacted by teaching communities in Estonia who wanted to use them in schools across the country.
‘We are seeing that teachers are loving the product as they really help them and give them extra protection.’
‘They don’t want to go back to distance learning – the quality of teaching just isn’t as good – and this is something that can provide an opportunity for teachers to teach face-to-face in class whilst remaining sufficiently protected.
‘We’re the first company to engineer and produce a wearable air purifier that uses UV-C technology to disinfect air breathed in without covering a wearer’s face.
‘It isn’t only a mask alternative – it is a personal air purifier for a post-Covid world.’
The Respiray purifier currently costs €279 (£240) and weighs around 980g.
The company, based in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, also plan to launch alternative purifiers later this year.