The Skyted mask makes you quiet enough to take calls even in a library

Demoed at CES 2024, it reduces sound by 25 decibels so even someone standing next to you can't make out what you're saying.

Photo by Brandon Quintana / Engadget

I don't like talking on the phone in public. Often, I'm gossiping about something I have no business discussing around other people, or I'm talking about some tech product that has yet to be launched. That's why a product like Skyted's Silent Mask entices me. The company launched its Kickstarter campaign today at CES 2024 for its noise-reducing wearable that would allow you to speak freely about confidential information anywhere without worrying about people around you hearing. It's already broken its $8,800 goal many times over, and as of this writing it's raised $54,000, meaning it's a concept that resonated with many people.

I'm skeptical of most Kickstarter projects, given the high likelihood they're vaporware, but the Skyted prototype I checked out here at the show felt solid. It didn't have an elastic head strap for me to put it on my head, so I had to hold it to my face while I tested it, but that aside the mask felt well-made. More importantly, the device actually worked.

I had to temper my expectations slightly, but otherwise I was impressed. The mask isn't made to completely eliminate noise or let you scream your primal rage out in the middle of a restaurant and still remain unheard. Or, if you're an aspiring Broadway singer like me, it won't completely mute your belted out ballads. It will, however, reduce sound by 25 decibels so if you're speaking at a normal volume, the person next to you won't hear what you're saying.

The inside of the Skyted Mask sitting on a black table.
Photo by Cherlynn Low / Engadget

My colleague Mat Smith was kind enough to join me for part of the demo so I could talk to him while putting the mask on and off my face. When I had the mask on, Mat, who stood right next to me, was sometimes unaware I was speaking. I kept my volume at a consistent level, which was slightly louder than I'd normally speak, given the noise around us on the showfloor. Even without Mat's validation, I could tell that what I was saying was noticeably muffled, to the point where if I had to talk about embargoed or confidential information in public, I would feel certain no one can hear the contents of my conversations. Now, I do need to point out that I did struggle to breathe at some points when trying on the Skyted mask, but that probably has more to do with how tightly I was pressing it to my face than the actual fit.

The mask uses technology similar to recent models of jet engines, which use resonators to draw sound away and into chambers. That way, the waves dissipate in a controlled environment instead of being leaked and overheard. There are little holes in the middle of the inside of the mask, and 12mm chambers on either side of the face. A microphone sits inside the mask, and, depending on the model of the device, can connect to your phone or laptop via Bluetooth or a wire. It has audio jacks onboard for input and output, so you can hear both yourself and the other people on your call.

The Skyted is currently available for an early bird starting price of $299 on Kickstarter, though after the introductory period it will cost $100 more. There are quite a few applications for a mask that helps keep your realworld conversations private, like allowing people to take meetings on their commutes. Skyted CEO Stephane Hersen said that talking on the phone is illegal on some trains in Europe, which means passengers on longer routes can't take work calls if they need. With Skyted, they would be able to. Hersen, who says he previously worked as a VP at Airbus, believes there are applications in education as well.

We're reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.