In brief: Everyone hopes for the day when we no longer have to wear masks. That might still be a way off, and until then, companies are going to keep packing tech into face coverings. The latest to go down this route is UK-Hong Kong telecoms firm Binatone, which has shown off its $50 MaskFone; a Bluetooth headset and N95 mask in one.
The MaskFone is designed primarily for making and taking phone calls while wearing a face covering. In addition to the wireless headphones, it comes with a built-in microphone, so users won’t experience the muffled effect when talking on a call.
The MaskFone also uses medical-grade interchangeable N95 filters that offer 95 percent virus filtration and is IPX5 water-resistant.
As someone who wears a mask with earbuds and glasses on occasion, I can see the benefits here. The two buds emerge from the mask and are clipped to the lower part of the ear hook to stop them from getting tangled. There are even control buttons on the outside for music listening—it comes with Siri and Amazon Alexa integration, too.
Binatone writes that the microphone ensures wearers won’t have to remove the mask to be heard clearly on a mobile. There’s a claimed 12-hour battery life, and it’s machine washable—just remove the filter before putting it in your washing machine.
The MaskFone comes in small/medium and medium/large sizes and ships with three PM2.5 filters alongside three eartips. It launches on February 1 for $49.99.
In addition to the MaskFone, Binatone is unveiling the MegaFone mask, which will be “fully equipped with a detachable voice projector that offers a “walkie talkie” mode for voice projection and two-way talk.” It uses a Mesh Network to connect to other MegaFone masks, interestingly.