As government and healthcare officials recommended the use of face masks in public settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MaskFone was created and designed to help reduce the need to adjust or remove your face mask while speaking on the phone.
MaskFone is the world’s first face mask with built-in earbuds and it combines protection, convenience, and technology. This timely invention features replaceable PM2.5 filters, a built-in microphone, and earphones so you’ll be able to answer a call in public and not have your voice sound muffled, or need to adjust your headphones. You’ll also be able to listen to music easily on your daily commute without having to untangle your earbuds from elastic straps.
MuscleTech.com had the opportunity to speak with Marty Urick, Vice President of Sales at Binatone Global, Motorola & Hubble Connected, about the creation of the world’s first face mask with built-in earbuds, the importance of staying healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why Binatone Global is giving a portion of their earnings from MaskFone to causes they support.
Q: For anyone who has struggled having a conversation walking outside while talking with a mask on, this invention is so timely and brilliant. How did the idea to create the world’s first face mask with built-in earbuds come to be?
A: “It’s a very interesting time in the world right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the use of face masks more important than ever. With the disease causing pathogens being able to remain airborne for a period of time, it is essential to have a safe and secure fit. When we go out, our phones are an important part of our lives and what we do – from when you need to communicate and not sound muffled when you’re on a call or want to listen to music, watch videos, or play games. MaskFone was designed as a solution for staying safe and using headphones with convenience for communication and entertainment.”
Q: Were there talks to create MaskFone prior to the coronavirus pandemic, or was this something that was designed, manufactured, and created as COVID-19 was spreading?
A: “That’s a good question. Binatone is a global company that participates in multiple product groups and retail channels, including Bluetooth audio, baby monitoring, and health. With headquarters in London our team saw early on in the pandemic a lot of the challenges with wearing a mask and easily taking calls or listening to music while remaining safe. Our chairman, Dino Lalvani, mobilized our product team to come up with a solution, and that is how MaskFone came to life.”
Q: How did the idea come about to allow people to control their phones either by using buttons on the surface of the mask or by using a wireless remote?
A: “We design all of our products with consumer use cases in mind, and how can these products make their lives easier. By integrating the headphones into the mask, incorporating the physical controls in an easy to use location, and adding voice control features with our app, we wanted to assure that all the different use case scenarios on how people use and interact with their phone and their audio had an easy solution to execute.”
Q: How were you able to develop MaskFone and get it out to the general public so quickly?
A: “We have a great team of product designers and engineers that really embraced the project. I think the fact they were not only working on a product they believed in, but also knew that it could help with the safety of our consumers, gave the whole team inspiration to complete the product and get it out as soon as possible.”
Q: Were there any manufacturing and/or supply issues either due to COVID-19 restrictions or lockdowns where MaskFone was manufactured?
A: “In general the whole world has seen manufacturing and logistical challenges during this pandemic. Nothing in 2020 has been normal, so we went into the project expecting that there would be some challenges, but as they came up we just navigated them and really worked hard to get the product completed as soon as possible.”
Q: MaskFone comes with three PM2.5 filters that people can insert into the mask. MaskFone could’ve just come with one or two filters, but your company chose to send three. Is the health and safety of everyone who uses MaskFone your company’s top priority?
A: “Yeah, that’s definitely a goal when we brought this product up. The world is such a small place right now. I used to be on an airplane every week, and in Asia once a quarter. I’d spend all of my time on the go and that all came crashing to a halt in March. So, we wanted to release a product that people can comfortably use and stay safe, and also offer multiple solutions for filters, based on how and where they wear it. We absolutely want everyone who uses MaskFone to be safe and stay healthy, as we all work together to beat this virus and return to those activities that we love.”
Q: As a company, why is it important for you to have a portion of the proceeds from each mask sold go to the World Health Organization and its fight against infectious diseases?
A: “For every mask we sell, we give back a portion of our earnings to a cause that we support. We are committed to playing a part in the fight against infectious diseases and illnesses and felt that contributing to an organization like the World Health Organization was an important piece. It feels like it completes the circle and the goal of releasing a product that can help keep people safe and support the organization working to bring the spread of this disease to a halt.”
Q: How do you choose the companies that you partner with?
A: “A lot of it comes down to passion. We want to partner with companies that share our passion for bringing unique products to life and also tell the story of how it can make the user’s life easier, and in this case, safer. It’s the most exciting thing we do every day, and our entire team gets energized when it all comes together. So, we want to work with partners who feel the same way and are as passionate about it as we are.”
Q: What has your own personal experience using MaskFone been like?
A: “I was out and about this weekend picking out a Christmas tree and doing some shopping and I had my MaskFone on the whole time. I had the chance to take some calls, to listen to music, and to listen to my Fantasy Football podcast and figure out what guys to play this week. It was very easy just to be fully integrated and immersed in that without having to feel like I needed to be adjusting the cord, or playing around with the fit, or struggling to work with my phone when I was out and about. So, it’s a very timely product. It’s a product that we made as easy to use as possible and we look forward to getting in front of consumers as soon as we can.”