Wearing a mask in these uncertain times during a global pandemic has become a way of life to prevent exposure to harmful bacteria, viruses and pollution. It’s no surprise that technology is making its way into the face coverings.

At last month’s CES virtual conference, UK-based telecommunication company Binatone showed the MaskFone, claiming it the world’s first wireless headphone and mask combination, stating it combines safety, fashion, technology, and entertainment.

Along with the mask, which includes a medical-grade N95 filter, there are built-in (and removable) microphone and wireless earbuds. Now when the situation isn’t conducive to removing your mask to make a hands-free call or listen to music, the MaskFone is the solution.

The mask is made with durable machine-washable twill fabric, which can easily form to most face features and shapes. Add to the disposable and replaceable interchangeable N95 filters to ensure a high level of protection with 95-percent virus filtration. The medical-grade filters will last up to 200 hours before a replacement is required.

But what makes the MaskFone a talking item is the rechargeable electronic technology. The wireless Bluetooth earbuds produce decent sound and will be good for up to 12-hours of playtime and handsfree calls before a USB charge is needed. The MaskFone is also IPX5 water-resistant rated.

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If you’re not in a mask-wearing environment, you’ll want to use better sounding earbuds, but for what these are and the environments they work in, the MaskFone is a great product.

The integrated and removable microphone lives in a pocket inside of the mask along with the controls, which line up with matching control symbols on the outside, so adjusting the mask isn’t needed to be heard on a call. Access to voice assistants is done by double-clicking the play button.

For times when you want the mask on but without the earbuds, just pull the cable clip to hold the earbuds with the magnetic earbud holder to keep them in place.

When the mask needs to be washed, the earbuds, controls and microphone are easily removed. After washing the mask, they snap back in, and there was no shrinking or remodeling of the mask needed to get it back to its original setup. Both before and after the washing, cell phone calls were heard fine on both ends of the call, which was of a concern with the mask on.

https://maskfone.com, $49.99

It's clear -- case closed

Raptic has released the rugged, yet attractive Shield line of protective smartphone cases for Samsungs new Galaxy S21.

The cases are loaded with protective features including tests to survive 10-foot drops on concrete, which exceeds U.S. military MIL-STD-810G standards. This testing covers all sides, faces, edges and corners.

But even with these features, the attractive smartphone is not hidden. Since the front and back coverages are clear, still giving full functionality to the touchscreen, controls, and cameras. The back panel is made from shatterproof clear polycarbonate for extra protection.

Both the front and back have soft rubber bumpers around the perimeter and raised lips on the edge, to help prevent the screen from shattering in the event of a drop (which will happen to everyone). Built-in antimicrobial protection is there to kill germs that won’t wear off.

The cases are wireless charging compatible and are available for all the Galaxy S21, Galaxy S21 Ultra, and Galaxy S21 Plus models in a variety of colors.

https://rapticstrong.com, $29.99

©2021 Gregg Ellman

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