Emily Matchar in Smithsonian:
Like school, work conferences and visiting your grandparents, this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has been virtual-only. So instead of gathering in hangar-sized Las Vegas expo halls, those wishing to check out the year’s crop of tech and gadget debuts can simply tune in online. Some of these technologies will never catch on. Others may one day be as ubiquitous as the Xbox, satellite radio and 3D printers, all of which made their grand entrances at CES. While it’s hard to predict which items will stick around, we’ve picked nine of the most useful-seeming, most surprising and most fun inventions for a possible peek into our future.
What would have looked utterly alien just a year ago now seems completely practical. Binatone’s MaskFone is a N95 mask wired for sound. Wearers can use its Bluetooth function to make calls, request a song from their own music library, or issue commands to voice assistants like Alexa. Simply take the electronics out to wash the fabric mask. Tech and social media commentator Lance Ulanoff tweeted “How did someone not come up with this sooner?”