One of the most painfully 2020 subcategories of CES this year is mask tech. Several vendors have high-tech face coverings, looking forward to a world where we may not all be wearing masks all of the time, but some of us are going to have to wear masks some of the time.
Old-school UK telecom company Binatone is hitting the “muffled talking through your mask” problem with the MaskFone, which is essentially a Bluetooth headset and earbuds sewn into a fabric mask that takes N95 inserts. It’s not washable—it’s a Bluetooth headset, after all—but it’s IPX5 water resistant, at least, and it uses disposable filters.
The MaskFone has a mic in the face piece and two earbuds hanging on wires by the earloops. The earbud wires integrate with the mask’s earloops, so the whole thing doesn’t drag on your ears. The mask comes in small and large sizes, with three sizes of eartips included. Binatone says it has 12 hours of battery life.
It costs $49.99, and Binatone sells five N95 filters for $19.99 or 30 PM2.5 filters for $19.99.
The earbuds don’t necessarily solve a problem (it’s not hard to put on headphones with a mask on), but the microphone might. It depends on whether you feel your phone calls have been muffled because of your mask material.
Along with the MaskFone, Binatone is promising a “MegaFone,” which “will be fully equipped with a detachable voice projector that offers a “walkie talkie” mode for voice projection and two-way talk.” (What could go wrong?) They didn’t give a release date or price for that one.Source