As the world adjusts to COVID-19 and, more generally, a new age of microbial warfare and surveillance, entrepreneurs, inventors, and venture capitalists are hard at work figuring out how to cash in (help).
Some designers are already circulating a new proof-of-concept for a bodysuit that will allow people to attend dance clubs, festivals, concerts, and sports events without exposing themselves to the coronavirus.
The Los Angeles-based design company Production Club says their “Micrashell” virus-proof half-body suit prototype would allow large groups of people to drink, vape, dance, use the bathroom, and even have sex all while still practicing the requisite social distancing protocols.
How? The suit would cover only the upper third of the body, roughly resembling a futuristic spacesuit, and would feature an air-filtration helmet with N95 filters, wireless voice communication tech with built-in speakers, a shield/visor equipped with smartphone apps, an in-suit beverage-and-vape supply system, and a phone charger. It would even have an LED light display adhered so that you can convey messages or express your mood.
Eerily, they call it the “future of human interaction.”
In a recent press release, Production Club further described the suit as a “personal protective equipment design concept that allows for human-to-human interaction in group setting….The Micrashell is a virus-shielded, easy to control, fun to wear, disinfectable, fast to deploy suit that allows socializing without distancing.”
Adding, “[We were] born in the rave counter-culture so DJing and safe partying is in our blood.”
Despite the futurity of its appearance, the designers want the suit to be practical.
“The principle designing the suit was, knowing this is a time-sensitive matter, let’s not pack it with sci-fi features that don’t yet exist and will be roadblocks, but [let’s] use technologies that are available to us,” Miguel Risueño, Head of Inventions explained. “If we don’t do that, we’re just navel-gazing instead of actually trying to solve a problem.”
To that end, the suit makes it easy to engage the rest of your body if you need to use the toilet–or have sex–and allows you to use beverage canisters to supply liquid meals. The system even helps you protect against getting roofied by making the drink cartridge compartmentalized and shielded from outside tampering.
Risueño said in an interview that there is a psychological component to the suit, too: “With everyone in our industry focused on developing virtual solutions we decided to focus on something more emotional, physical and inherently human so the industry as a whole could have a broader chance to recover promptly.”
The Group believes live entertainment like festivals and concerts is indispensable to being human. From this perspective, the suit could be a first glimpse at some of the strange technological detours we’ll be taking in the years ahead.
For the more eccentric, devoted party-goers who attend events like Burning Man and Coachella every year, such inventions may catch on, especially if a second wave of the virus imposes an even more dire, existential risk to our economy. While it remains to be seen whether COVID-19 or future virus scares will permanently alter the nature of human gatherings, it appears entrepreneurs are already planning for that eventuality.
Would you wear it?