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This New Gadget Lets Employers Dial Down the Noise Level

Open office environments are noisy, and there goes your co-worker taking another loud, long-winded smartphone call!

Perhaps you need to make a call, but your phone calls are neither loud nor long-winded, of course.

Either way, you wish there were a way to create more quiet among the 1' x 2' work spaces assigned through daily festival seating. If only you didn't have to listen to your co-worker talk to her wedding planner anymore!

Well, now there is an emerging gadget that will quiet the co-worker who is on the phone arguing loudly with the cable company. The gadget is called the Hushme, and it made an appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas recently. A more technical way to describe the Hushme is as a "voice masking device for mobile phones." I like to think of it as noise canceling headphones for our mouth.

Here's how it works: Hushme uses an app to synchronize to your smartphone. It comes with attached (er, "integrated" in tech-speak) earbuds, as well as a host of "masking sounds" including Darth Vader and squirrel. Engadget has a good rundown. Here is a promotional video so you can see how it would look in the workplace.

Could the Hushme be the Next Big Thing in open office environment technology? On the upside, it could be great for employees who don't want everyone in the office to hear their conversations, and there may be other workplace uses, as well. On the downside, it might take awhile for some employees to figure out that their colleague is not wearing headphones over their mouth while they argue with their spouse about whose turn it is to pick up the kids. Glimpse the future, baby.

It's a cool idea, and many employees stuck in open office environments would appreciate not having to listen to their co-worker get an estimate from the plumber.

Maybe the Hushme is a good place to start our transition toward a calmer, quieter open office environment? Now if only tech companies could come up with a solution for the spread of the common head cold in a cubicle-free workplace, we'd be all set.


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