A startup wants to change air purifiers the way Dyson changed vacuum cleaners. AirTulip Sleep is a plush headboard that doubles as a high-quality air filter. As you sleep, it’s designed to envelop you in a bubble of clean air, ensuring you’re breathing cleanly during this crucial time for your health.
According to AirTulip cofounder and CEO Arjen de Jong, the seed for this idea came from an experience he had when he was 16.
“I joined the maintenance team for hangar equipment at a large airport,” he writes over email. “In the clean room booth, one of the workers lit a cigarette . . . while he wasn’t supposed to. Instead of a plume of smoke, the cigarette drew a line in the air straight down. It felt like magic—and you didn’t smell it at all.”
Where COVID-19 meets fluid dynamics
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, de Jong says that he recalled that magical moment and thought about how advanced air-filtering technologies could help against the virus.
However, he also knew that those clean room installations are large and expensive, integrated into the ceilings and floors of places like chip production facilities, medical facilities—any building that requires an ultraclean environment. (De Jong’s awareness extended beyond that one experience at the airport. His father ran a factory that built clean rooms and clean room equipment.)
De Jong ultimately decided to integrate the same principles behind clean rooms into a product for the home. Regular air purifiers use an airflow system that creates turbulence: The air gets absorbed, filtered, and then returned back to the room in a chaotic way, mixing again with the existing polluted air.
His AirTulip Sleep operates more like a clean room, using laminar flow, a principle of fluid dynamics in which a stream of particles flow in layers without any turbulence or mixing.
“Normally, you create a thermal plume above your head, pulling dust toward your nose and mouth,” de Jong writes. “This flow shields you from it as well.”
De Jong claims that the AirTulip’s laminar flow creates a clean air bubble around your upper body during the night. It also runs silently and without a discernible breeze on your skin.
Technically speaking, the AirTulip Sleep features ULPA filtering, which traps more, smaller particles than HEPA. It also features a more standardized room-purification mode for the daytime, which filters a wider footprint of air.
These promises are bold, and tough to validate, but de Jong says his air-purifying headboard has been tested in a Dutch technical university where the company designs and makes its products. “We already built multiple products to test with early testers,” he says. “One of them is running for over six months with already impactful health improvements.”
Aside from air filtering, the AirTulip Sleep is also simply a functional upgrade to most headboards on the market. Available in twin, queen, and king sizes, its plush design integrates ambient and reading lights, wireless charging and USB charging, and shelving.
The AirTulip Sleep will launch as a Kickstarter campaign on August 30, priced at $899 for a twin during the launch discount. (The non-discounted manufacturer’s suggested retail price reaches all the way to $2,800 for a king-size headboard.)
You can pre-reserve a purchase here.