Sound-absorbing face mask prevents eavesdroppers from hearing your calls

Stormtrooper chic, anyone?  (Skyted)
Stormtrooper chic, anyone? (Skyted)

You’ve heard of noise-cancelling headphones, now get ready for a sound-absorbing facemask. The maker of this quirky-looking device claims it can enable the wearer to talk on the phone without being heard by those around them.

French startup Skyted unveiled the “silent” mask at the CES tech show in Las Vegas. The company claims the mask uses the same military-grade material used to silence jet engines. That allows it to absorb 80 per cent of voice vibration, while keeping out external noises, according to Skyted.

Aside from ensuring your calls are private, the company claims it can also help callers to hear you more clearly in noisy environments, including on planes. The 220g mask uses a bone-conductor mic, which works by transmitting sound vibrations through your cheekbones instead of through the air, and can reduce sounds from -25 to -40 decibels. It can pair with phones using a Bluetooth connection and is apparently compatible with video-calling apps like Zoom.

In terms of its design, it doesn’t look too dissimilar to the bulky air-purifying facemasks slowly making their way to the public from the likes of LG and Dyson. Though it doesn’t boast any special filtering tricks like those products, it still makes the wearer look like Batman villain Bane.

Nevertheless, Skyted is hoping people will embrace the mask in a variety of everyday situations, including on flights, at work, and in busy restaurants and bars. A separate model aimed at gamers is also in the works – probably for when you let loose a barrage of expletives upon losing another round.

Skyted plans to crowdfund the mask on Kickstarter in March, when it will also be available to pre-order. There is no word on the price just yet.

The Skyted face mask will be available in two models, one for professionals and one for gamers (Skyted)
The Skyted face mask will be available in two models, one for professionals and one for gamers (Skyted)

The product is the brainchild of Stephane Hersen, who cites his time working for Airbus in the aviation industry as inspiring him to invent the mask. Originally devised for use on planes, Hersen said it was the pandemic that underscored the need for the mask beyond travellers.

“Three years after I began this venture due to the new hybrid work conditions, billions of workers regularly handle calls in noisy, confined, and crowded spots,” he explained.

“All of us have experienced calls in very noisy situations, with a high potential for confidentiality breaches and frequent noise assaults on those around, not to mention competing conference calls, even within our own homes.”