Face Masks Go High-Tech, But Do You Need One?
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Face Masks Go High-Tech, But Do You Need One?

We tested a few ‘smart,’ app-enabled masks to see if they’re too much trouble—or a breath of tech air.

By RACHEL WOLFE
Wed, Feb 10, 2021Grey Clock 2 min

FOR THE PAST few weeks, I’ve been strapping on “smart” masks, a new breed of face-covering you have to plug in to charge each night or pair with a phone app. Their promise: superior, or at least geekier, pandemic protection. The brands behind them back up the claim with a dazzling range of snazzy features.

The AirPop Active+ Halo Sensor mask (above, $190, airpophealth.com), for instance, measures my breathing rate and alerts me when it’s time to change the disposable N99-equivalent filter. With a washable shell and rubber seal that moulds to my face to minimize air leaks, the mask doesn’t feel scratchy like other medical-grade models I’ve tried. People even nerdier than me will like that it tracks your location to let you know the quality of the air and the approximate number of particles it’s protected you against.

Others I tested, like the N95-equipped MaskFone (approx. $80, maskfone.com), have integrated wireless earbuds to prevent dreaded mask-muffle on calls, or mechanical ventilation systems that release heat you generate by exhaling. All are designed, according to their manufacturers, for a world where even getting vaccinated doesn’t obviate the need to wear a face-covering.

But, as buzzy as this wizardry might be, are high-tech masks really worth the fuss compared to their no-brainer counterparts?

Dale Pfriem, principal of Protective Equipment Consulting Services and part of a standards-development working group addressing federal mask guidelines, says he’s in favour of any feature that makes people more likely to wear their masks. As long as the products meet fit and filtration standards, that is. (The AirPop is compliant with EU Committee for Standardization and ASTM International barrier-mask guidelines.)

“For me,” Mr Pfriem said, “the simpler the better.” He opts for disposable N95s which he wears until they become stretched out or smelly. And, no, he doesn’t need a slickly designed app to tell him when that’s the case. “I don’t want to have to think about it too much.”

Pairing my AirPop mask to my phone certainly did not liberate me from thinking. At one point in my trial, I was forced to puzzle out why passersby were suddenly staring at me, their eyes merry. Then I realised I’d somehow triggered a “party mode” feature that makes the AirPop flash rainbow colours. After an attempt to care exactly how many particles the mask had caught, I admitted I was bored. Ultimately, I ignored the app and used the AirPop merely as a particularly protective face mask. The headphones in the MaskFone, though? Those are pretty cool.

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By Robyn Willis
Fri, Aug 5, 2022 2 min

When people talk about making a seachange, chances are this is the kind of property on the NSW South Coast that they have in mind.

Open for inspection for the first time this Saturday, 24 Point Street Bulli offers rare absolute beachfront, with never-to-be-built-out north facing views of the ocean. Located on the tip of Sandon Point, this two-storey property is a surfer’s dream with one of Australia’s most iconic surf breaks just beyond the back wall.

On the lower floor at street level, there are three bedrooms and two bathrooms, including a family bathroom and an ensuite in the master suite. A fourth bedroom is on the upper floor, along with the main living area, and is serviced by its own bathroom. 

While this would make a spectacular holiday home, it is well equipped for day-to-day living, with a spacious gourmet kitchen and butler’s pantry set into the articulated open plan living area on the first floor. A separate media room to the street side of the property on this level provides additional living space. 

Every aspect of this property has been considered to take in the light and views, with high ceilings internally and spacious, north facing decks on both levels to take in views of rolling waves. If the pull of the ocean is irresistible, it’s just a 100m walk to feel the sand between your toes.

The house is complemented by a Mediterranean, coastal-style garden, while the garage has room for a workshop and two car spaces.

An easy walk to Bulli village, the property is a 20 minute drive from the major hub of Wollongong and just over an hour to Sydney.

 

Open: Saturday August 6 2pm-3pm Auction: Saturday September 3 Price guide: N/A but expected to exceed $5.3m paid in March for 1 Alroy Street 

Contact: McGrath Thirroul – Vanessa Denison-Pender, 0488 443 174