Pandemic? Check. World in peril? Check. CES is on? Check. So of course Bluetooth Smart Masks are now a thing

What a time to be alive


CES The world is in the grip of a lethal viral pandemic. The technology industry’s response?

“Smart Masks” that connect to your phone, that’s what.

The Register has learned of at least three such devices having been announced at this week’s CES virtual consumer-tech fest.

One is called the “Maskfone” and offers a built-in microphone and lightweight earbuds, and on-mask controls for your Bluetooth-equipped smartphone. The garment also offers replaceable PM2.5 filters capable of catching the novel coronavirus.

The idea seems to be that wearing a Maskfone allows you to protect yourself and others from COVID-19 while chatting or listening to music, all without getting in a tangle of devices. Apparently, the device will also allow you to summon the services of your preferred digital assistant. Siri, Alexa and the Google assistant are immune to Coronavirus, but susceptible to others.

Handing over US$49.99 buys you this convenience.

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An outfit named AirPop wants an extra $100 for its “Active+ Halo” Smart Mask that uses a built-in sensor to measure your breath. The device can count how often you breathe and inform you of the pollutants it has blocked, with that info delivered to an app. Replaceable filters will also be sold and the device will go on sale later this month.

Gaming kit vendor Razer’s offering is called “Project Hazel” and a built-in microphone and amplifier in the expectation they clarify speech. The device lights up at night, which apparently helps to communicate. A transparent front panel is present so that those around you can read your lips. Replaceable filters keep COVID at bay.

Razer promises the device will have all-day battery life, but says it’s a mere concept that “will continue be optimized through rigorous testing and user feedback to ensure safety compliance and maximum comfort and usability.”

Which goes to show that the pandemic hasn’t stopped the production of vapourware. ®


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