MaskFone, a sign-of-the-times product that tries to accommodate multitasking during the pandemic, was launched at the just-concluded CES tech show.
Wearing it, users can speak on their smartphones -- or listen to music -- while wearing a mask that protects themselves and passersby.
A smartphone user’s voice will sound clearer instead of muffled, and she can hear music without having to take her mask off. A video on YouTube also plays up its noise-canceling ability.
A microphone is built in, and earbuds are part of the same apparatus that the mask hangs from.
Even if it’s a quality item, the pandemic-weary world can’t but hope it has its obsolescence built-in, too.
It’s made by Binatone, a British electronics firm, which also makes other audio and visual aids, like conventional earbuds, baby monitors and home security devices.
The masks come in small-to-large sizes and are available via Amazon for $49.99.
The MaskFone is made with four filter layers of a washable, water-resistant fabric and comes with a variety of ear hook sizes and tips for the buds. It includes PM 2.5 and N95 filters filters and a sleeve holder. Control buttons are on the side, and an app can help boost the user’s voice.
“We've seen a few weird and wonderful face masks over the last few months," the website CreativeBloq commented. “But MaskFone is the first 'enhanced' face mask that seems like it could be truly useful. Anyone who has tried removing a mask with music plugged in will know it's a recipe for lost earbuds, while trying to speak on the phone through a mask is a recipe for a sore throat.”
It was one of several COVID-19 related items at the CES tech show, which included masks with built-in air purifiers.
Whatever novelty MaskFone has would seem to pale with a Washington Post report about the clear mask that video game maker Razer will soon bring to market. That mask will also have interior lights, and a voice amplifier. The real showstopper might be the mask’s exterior illumination, which the Post said can create “more than 16 million” color combinations -- one way to stand out in the socially distanced crowd.