Razer has a knack for unveiling lofty concept devices at CES that never actually ship — remember the laptop dock for the Razer phone, or the three-screen laptop? The company admits these fantastical projects are basically design exercises, but you can still find their influence in future projects. So, keeping that in mind, the company is back at CES 2021 with some new concepts: Project Hazel, a smart mask built for the pandemic era, and Project Brooklyn, the ultimate gamer chair with a retractable 60-inch OLED screen.
Let's start with the one that may actually launch: Project Hazel is one of the most tech-infused masks we've ever seen. It looks like a face covering a cyborg ninja would wear, with RGB lights, a transparent front cover to let people see your mouth, and a built-in microphone and speaker that can amplify your voice. Oh yah, and it can also protect you from that pesky COVID thing, too, with active air ventilation that's as effective as an N95 medical mask.
It relies on bacterial filtration efficiency pods that can trap 95 percent of airborne particles, and it uses rechargeable disc ventilators that can be sanitized with UV light from its charging box. In many ways, Project Hazel looks like the ideal active mask. It vents out CO2 and brings in fresh air. It creates an air tight seal with adjustable straps. And, for glasses wearers like me, it avoids the annoying breath fog issue that occurs whenever you're outside in the cold.
After seeing one Hazel prototype in action over a Zoom call, it looks like a product we could actually see on store shelves. The underlying tech isn't anything new, Razer just needs to hone its skills making something that's comfortable to wear. Of course, the company doesn't have a price in mind just yet. But even if it ended up going for $100 or more (perhaps with cheaper models with less bells and whistles), I could see plenty of gamers opting for the Hazel over a disposable mask.
And then there's Project Brooklyn, which will likely never see the light of day. Building on its first chair, which debuted in October, Razer swung for the fences to design a seat that could solve all of your gaming needs. (Well, aside from helping you go to the toilet.) The wildest element is its 60-inch curved OLED screen, which folds into the seat's back like a pair of wings. It looks ripped right out of science fiction, the sort of thing that wouldn't be out of place in Ridley Scott's ill-fated Prometheus.
Sure, that enormous curved OLED looks cool, but it leans so far out into the fantastical that I can't really get too excited about it. LG's rolling OLED TV actually exists, but that thing costs $87,000, and that's without trying to hide it inside of a chair. Project Brooklyn also features LED lighting (of course), haptic feedback throughout the chair's frame, and modular armrests that can turn into a table for PC gaming.
Like a true concept, Razer says that Project Brooklyn is more meant to inspire it as it builds more realistic chairs. "Razer will continue to develop this gaming chair concept, conducting testing with top esports athletes and influencers to benchmark feasibility, comfort and performance," the company The Project Brooklyn concept is intended to offer insights on how to improve user mechanics and design to deliver a more immersive gameplay experience and inspire Razer’s growing portfolio of gaming chairs in the near future."