A little over a year ago, a European wearing a mask on the street would have aroused at least interest, later the situation changed to the opposite: a person without this object in a closed public place was looked at with displeasure and even bewilderment. Now, however, many Europeans have relaxed, deciding for themselves that the coronavirus has suddenly disappeared somewhere. At our disposal was the LG PuriCare mask – not a cheap accessory equipped with a pair of HEPA filters and fans. It was the presence of an active air supply system that attracted our attention – it became interesting how it works and whether it makes sense to use it.
Outwardly, the device looks technologically advanced and a bit futuristic. He will definitely attract the attention of others, which can be a problem for an introvert. The mask has a white matte body with protruding air intakes on the sides. They are removable, they also have one H13 HEPA filter element attached.
The same fans with inverter motors are installed behind the elements, pumping air from the outside. There is an indicator on the right ledge, and a funny incident happened here: it turns out that now even a mask cannot be used without a manual. Having put it on, I naively thought that it would turn on automatically, but this did not happen. The book suggested that the green bar was also a button. With its help, LG PuriCare switches modes: one press – on and minimum speed, the second – medium, then maximum, and finally, off. Pressing is accompanied by sound.
The volume of pumped air, according to the specifications, varies from 20 to 55 liters per minute, depending on the mode. This also affects battery life, ranging from 4 to 8 hours, and a full recharge takes about two hours. In my case, I didn’t have to recharge the mask: there were not many trips to crowded places, and in some cases a regular mask was more convenient than a fancy one from LG.
The mask is light – 126 grams. This is taking into account the rather big case, the battery, a couple of motors and electronic filling. A removable silicone gasket is installed inside the mask, which ensures a snug fit of the mask to the face, it also prevents plastic from digging into the skin and prevents the glasses from fogging up. Perforations on the side and bottom provide air exchange inside. An additional disposable liner is inserted into the gasket – it is designed to catch the droplets formed during breathing. Therefore, in which case you are less likely to infect others, moreover, the exhalation hole is located at the bottom of the mask.
The usual side straps are provided for wearing the mask. They need to be adjusted to fit the head so that the mask fits snugly. By the way, if you put it on incorrectly, the mask will constantly slide off. When worn correctly – higher – there will be no discomfort. But when using ribbons, it is better to stock up on large and strong ears. Yes, if the ears are small, in a couple of minutes they will begin to bulge and even change their shade. To put it mildly, uncomfortable.
For such cases, the LG PuriCare kit has an “extension” – an elastic tape that is attached with hooks at the ends between the straps, located in the lower part of the back of the head. Outwardly, the design did not seem too strong, but in reality it is only so convenient to wear the mask: it does not move anywhere, fits tightly on the face, it has to be corrected less often than when worn on the ears.
The mask uses a breathing sensor to track the user’s sighs. How exactly, it does not matter, the main thing is whether it is convenient. Again, there were fears that the mask would fail during inhalation – a lag would appear between its beginning and the fan speed. The fans, by the way, always run at idle, creating a slight rustling sound.
In practice, the fans spun on time, as if anticipating inhalation. It was not possible to deceive the mask with a breath holding or a broken rhythm, although there is a “but” about him below. During a conversation, the system usually does not interfere, but with certain articulation and movements it can start. Here the problem is rather that the voice from under the mask comes dully – not to fully chat. The fans also accelerate if you remove the included mask or outside air begins to flow under the silicone lining.
The minimum blowing mode in my case turned out to be the most unused – the air flow seemed insufficient, although subjectively it was higher than in a regular rag mask. The most convenient was the medium mode – for calm breathing while working at the computer, as well as for a leisurely walk between the store counters.
The maximum mode creates the illusion of almost free breathing, but the noise level during the acceleration of the motors becomes noticeable. If the mask were black, it is quite possible to cosplay Darth Vader – it’s not bad, it’s funny. In a noisy room (the same office open space) a few meters away, the sound will be indistinguishable.
In theory, at maximum mode, LG PuriCare will allow you to go in for sports, although the volume of pumped cubic meters of air for active exercise is not enough. Such a scenario is possible only in the gym, where there are a lot of people, but really want to. With rapid breathing (after intense running, for example, or severe shortness of breath), the mask may not cope – the fans still do not keep up with the high rhythm.
By the way, she copes well with odors: they tried it in a smoky room and in the vastness of generously fertilized fields. In addition, the installed filters will help allergy sufferers. But to use it as a “working” mask – for example, when processing wood, when there is a lot of dust, it is not worth it: the filters will have to be changed often, and the motors are unlikely to say thanks. There are specialized solutions for this.
The mask can be used with a dead battery, but this will create certain difficulties. You will have to forcefully draw air through a pair of filters (main external and disposable inside); inside, due to the semi-hermetic design, without air flow, moisture quickly accumulates due to breathing and the temperature gradually rises.
LG PuriCare can’t be put in your pocket. At least a small one that fits a regular mask. There is a bag in the kit, but it is more likely not for carrying, but for convenient storage.
The price is high, at some point it will be necessary to replace HEPA filters, which are not sold in every store (but judging by the dynamics of consumption, they will last for a long time – for a month with constant use, but rarely does anyone wear a mask for 8 hours 7 days a week in a row).
You can monitor the condition of the mask – the charge level and the condition of the filters – through the LG ThinQ app, but it cannot directly connect to the smartphone. This requires a case. The case is a separate technological (and not cheap) gadget. Its main application is UV sterilization, it also serves as a charging station and provides access to mask statistics.
A UV sterilization session lasts 30 minutes, according to the description, the procedure is 99% effective against bacteria, but the deadly light does not get everywhere. The materials of the mask allow you to treat it with alcohol-containing compounds, and the silicone pad can be washed with soap.
In the case, you can also sterilize other items – smartphones, glasses, for example. The main thing is that they fit, and their materials do not collapse from exposure to UV radiation.
LG itself is not positioning the mask as protection against the coronavirus in the air. The explanation for this is simple: there are no official tests for this, certifying organizations do not carry out them. If we take into account the HEPA H13 filters, they are able to trap particles smaller than the corona virus.
The LG PuriCare mask is an expensive device with a target audience that is not completely obvious to us.
It is comfortable for long-term wearing due to the built-in ventilation system and HEPA filters. Probably a wealthy businessman will take one on a plane for a long flight. Or an expensive taxi driver. At the reception, the mask is not very comfortable – in a noisy room the voice can hardly break through it. There are still IT people and technology fans who are ready to spend money on this accessory. Allergy sufferers and asthmatics will also thank you. And finally, when playing sports, the comparison between a regular cloth multi-layer mask and LG PuriCare wins the latter (if you are ready or forced to play sports with a mask).