New protective suit would let you attend shows amid COVID-19
As the days wear on, more and more states have worked out plans to gradually reopen. Though our world is beginning to return, very slowly, to some sense of its pre-pandemic normal self, the future of live music is still uncertain. With this in mind, a few options regarding the safest ways to host and attend concerts are currently being explored and tested.
Thus far, one of the most popular options is the drive-in concert (such as the one that took place in Denmark earlier this month and the planned Marc Rebillet drive-in tour that is scheduled to start June 11). "Socially Distanced" shows are beginning to pop up, too, including the reduced capacity show (from roughly 1100 down to 229) that Travis McCready of Bishop Gunn> played at Fort Smith, Arkansas' TempleLive on May 18. Audience members wore face masks, had their temperatures taken, and maintained social distancing protocol.
Production Club, a company that devotes much of its time to working on "stages and experiences" for clients (in the gaming, technology, and music industry-related fields), has another thought in mind regarding how to best kick live music back into gear. They're working on technology that might allow concert-goers to flock together at clubs and music festivals, but still remain protected from the elements and their peers. Their technological fix takes form in a wearable protective suit, called the Micrashell, which is designed to be worn in a concert or party atmosphere.
The Micrashell looks (and acts) a lot like a glorified space suit, fit with a tight helmet, an N95 filtration system, and LED lights to boot. Despite its obvious medical purpose, the suit was designed to make people "want to wear it" and to "feel good about wearing it," noting its fashionable design and practical features. It even comes equipped with snap-in canisters for drinking and vaping (yes, vaping) so wearers won't be tempted to take off the helmet for any reason.
Speaking to NBC Los Angeles, Miguel Risueno, head of inventions for Production Club, said, "[Micrashell is] a half suit that kind of takes your safety and your security in terms of being close to airborne particles or viruses to the next level."
In terms of how Micrashell will come into play regarding the live music atmosphere, the idea is that venues will purchase a handful of suits and rent them out to show-goers each evening. That way, the average person doesn't have to purchase their own, but they will still have access to them when they want to spend a night out or go to a show. After each use, the venue will then be responsible for sanitizing each suit for continued use.
On top of keeping individual wearers safe, the Micrashell presents a promising option for allowing concerts to resume in a manner as close to "normal" as possible. Notably, due to the safeguards that the suits present, their use would eliminate the need for social distancing at shows and allow rooms to meet their normal capacity. This way, not only can tickets sell at normal rates, benefiting venues AND artists, but concert-goers can also gather together to enjoy live music in close proximity without the fear of getting sick.
"The most exciting part is being able to have a deeper more emotion, physical connection with the people around you," Risueno said to NBC.
Production Club hopes to have an actual prototype of the suit soon, and you can take a look at what they've envisioned so far on their site.