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Startup Showcases ‘Voice Frequency Absorber’ Innovation at CES 2024

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has always been a platform where unconventional gadgets find their spotlight. This year, the event sees the introduction of unique face-worn devices by Skyted, a startup based in Toulouse, France.The Mobility Privacy Mask and Hybrid Silent Mask
Skyted, co-founded by former Airbus VP Stéphane Hersen and acoustical engineer Frank Simon, is set to showcase the “Mobility Privacy Mask” and “Hybrid Silent Mask” at CES 2024. These face accessories are crafted to “absorb voice frequencies” in bustling settings such as airplanes, trains, and rideshares. According to Hersen, the masks cater to a diverse audience. He mentioned, “Skyted’s solution is ideal for commuters, business executives, and travelers anywhere. No matter how bustling or public the location, they can converse in silence, ensuring their conversations remain private.”

Design and Functionality
While the functionality of these masks is intriguing, their design raises eyebrows. Weighing in at about 220 grams, they aren’t exactly lightweight. Moreover, their appearance might not be everyone’s cup of tea, unless you were a fan of the Dyson Zone. However, Hersen argues that the benefits of privacy they offer outweigh these concerns.

Innovative Sound-Dampening Technology
Skyted’s masks incorporate sound-dampening materials, originally developed by Simon during his tenure at ONERA, the renowned French aerospace lab. Interestingly, these materials were initially designed for jet engines. The masks connect to a smartphone app, which enables users to toggle sound through the phone’s speaker, reducing the need to remove the mask. The app also provides insights into the user’s voice level, perceptibility, and intelligibility, resembling a speech-oriented Fitbit.

Performance and Partnerships
Skyted claims that their masks diminish 80% of the wearer’s voice, improving voice and video call clarity by eliminating external noise. These claims are backed by partnerships with undisclosed top transportation providers and support from ONERA and the European Space Agency.

A Multifaceted Approach
However, Skyted’s ambitions seem to extend beyond these masks. Their website hints at unique in-app features, such as a “voice awareness” mode, possibly aiding parents in managing noisy children engrossed in video games. Additionally, Skyted envisions their masks as enhancing gaming experiences and has dedicated sections on defense and military applications. Collaborations with the French military and France’s military R&D arm indicate their diverse focus, including specialized masks for submariners and special ops.

Market Reception and Future Prospects
Despite the potential, Skyted’s scattered market approach, combined with a hefty starting price of $299 and existing low-tech competition, raises concerns. However, the startup secured approximately $1 million in seed funding last year, suggesting a broader market interest in sound-absorbing wearables.

As Skyted prepares to launch its masks, the tech world watches with anticipation. Will these innovative devices revolutionize private communication in public spaces, or will they face challenges in a competitive market? Only time will tell.

by Paul Britton

Full-time CBG author covering everything from business to wellbeing news, in Cyprus. and abroad.


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