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Design Lifestyle Technik 30. Oktober 2023

„(…) Dyson Zone helps people to find a moment of calm in the chaos of the every day“ – Im Gespräch mit Audio Engineer Philip Darling

Angefangen hat alles mit Staubsaugern. Mittlerweile entwirft Dyson Saugroboter, Luftfilter, Ventilatoren, Haartrockner und -glätter. Und zuletzt einen Kopfhörer mit eingebautem Luftfilter. Der Dyson Zone sieht auf den ersten Blick ungewöhnlich aus: Er besteht aus zwei Komponenten: einem Over-Ear-Kopfhörer und einem Bügel. Der Kopfhörer saugt die Außenluft an und reinigt sie. Durch den Bügel wird sie nach vorne transportiert. Dort entsteht eine Art „Saubere-Luft-Zone“ um Nase und Mund.

Fasziniert von dieser Technik haben wir uns mit Philip Darling, Principal Audio Engineer Dyson zum Interview getroffen.

City noise and air pollution are main problems city dwellers face. Is this the reason why you came up with the idea to develop the Dyson Zone?

Indeed, while we love the cities we live in, they are noisy and they are dirty. For some more context, as the world’s urban population continues to grow, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 9 in 10 people globally breathe air that exceeds WHO guideline pollutant limits. Where NO2 pollution in cities decreased during the Covid-19 pandemic, levels have quickly returned to normal, or exceeded pre-pandemic levels across many global cities. It is estimated that more than 100m people, around 20% of the European population, are exposed to long-term noise exposure above WHO guidance.

The Dyson Zone is the result of over a decade of air quality research and development and sets out to tackle these two, particularly urban, issues of air quality and noise pollution.

Of course we all want to eliminate the big city noise, but are the headphones really suitable for everyday life for example when you ride your bike to work or rather for the home use?

Rather than cycling, the Dyson Zone has been designed for when you are commuting to work via public transport or walking outside. The transparency mode selectively feeds some in the noise around you, as it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings. And of course, you can also enjoy using your Dyson Zone at home, e.g. listening to music while relaxing or doing light exercises.

© Dyson

Can you tell us more about the technology behind the Dyson Zone?

We have taken a typically engineering-led approach to creating our first pair of headphones. The Dyson Zone has been designed for ultra-low distortion and high fidelity audio. The headphones combine intelligent signal processing with active noise cancelling. They reduce distortion ensuring realistic, detailed audio. Moreover, you’ll benefit from industry leading noise cancellation: Eight active noise cancelling microphones monitor surrounding noise 384,000 times a second, cancelling background noise. With two additional microphones for telephony and transparency systems. The custom-built 40mm, 16-ohm neodymium speaker driver delivers a broad frequency range for absolute clarity in bass, mids and highs.

The Dyson Zone Headphones remove up to 99% of ultrafine particles. Dyson’s two-stage, sealed filtration system removes city fumes, viruses and up to 99% of ultrafine pollutants to deliver purified air.

In the electrostatic filter’s negatively-charged threads capture up to 99% of particulates as small as 0.1 microns such as allergens. The activated carbon filter adsorbs city fumes and gases such as nitrogen dioxide.

Dyson is considered a technology pioneer. What inspired you to develop the Dyson Zone, above all, the combination of headphones and air filter?

Along the journey the Dyson Zone has had many iterations and prototypes. We also always start with a problem and given our extensive background in understanding air pollution from our indoor purifiers, we started with the idea of finding a solution to protect against outdoor air pollution. Our history has also included audio research – starting with the sound our products make. We became increasingly aware of noise pollution through our work. It’s difficult to pinpoint an exact moment when headphones were considered but it was very early on in the process.

The headphone design is very futuristic. What was the design process like and what aspect the most important?

For a pair of headphones which brings together so much advanced technology, ensuring comfort and even weight distribution were key elements in the design process. In this area we took inspiration from the shape and design of a horse’s saddle. A saddle typically curves over the horse’s spine distributing the load through contact with the areas left and right of the backbone. Similarly, the Dyson Zone is engineered to distribute weight over the sides of the head, rather than on the top – with the high capacity batteries located in the side of the headband, rather than the ear cups, and a soft central cushion placed at the top of the headband for comfort.

© Dyson

The sound of the headphones couldn’t be any better and the noise cancelling gives you the feeling of being completely isolated. Did you want to bring a device to the market that gives us the feeling of withdrawal and escape from everyday life?

It is really good to hear that you have had a great experience with the level of noise cancelling and that you are enjoying the audio performance. Escape from everyday life wasn’t necessarily our priority when developing the Dyson Zone. We were more concerned about tackling the problem of urban air and noise pollution, but if the Dyson Zone helps people to find a moment of calm in the chaos of the every day, that’s also great to hear.

Vacuum cleaner, hair care technology, air treatment, lighting and headphones: What products are next on your agenda?

At Dyson we never stop inventing. So stay tuned for our next exciting new products!

© Dyson

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