New inventions hit the mute button in open offices

Tuning Out

New inventions hit the mute button in open offices

Hushme announces the scheduled delivery of the first personal acoustical device prototype for February 5, 2019. (Courtesy Hushme)

The hum of innovation and collaboration at work these days is reaching a fever pitch, and a lot of us are having a hard time concentrating. New incubation spaces are producing a myriad of novel solutions to world problems and for many the buzz of that activity is becoming a distraction. Our open-plan office spaces, the hallowed halls of design thinking, potentially threaten our most cherished commodity: privacy.

Recently, innovative companies like Hushme, Panasonic design studio Future Life Factory, and others have developed novel solutions to the cubicle quietness conundrum. The invention of the “Hushme” ushers in a new era of voice privacy. The Bluetooth-connected headphone device is hailed as the first voice mask for mobile phones. The sophisticated microphone-enabled mask links with your smartphone and provides a firewall against eavesdropping coworkers. An added benefit is that it makes one think twice before opening one’s mouth.

Wear Space privacy hardware (Courtesy Panasonic)

According to a recent article on techcrunch, “Open offices have driven Panasonic to make horse blinders for humans.” The product, known as “Wear Space” blocks out a worker’s peripheral vision while incorporating noise-cancelling technology. It also curbs risky impulses like making unnecessary eye contact with coworkers.

(Credit Pause

Panasonic, however, is not the first to enter the work noise–reduction space. Cross collaboration has produced some exciting results from some unexpected places including the tattoo and the camping industries. Pause Pod developed a lightweight pop-up tent that fits easily in a good-looking shoulder bag. Whether you are reading, napping, meditating, or simply recharging, Pause Pod provides the ultimate privacy and relaxation while taking up minimal real estate at the office.


The tattoo industry produced a more drastic and controversial proposal: the eyelid tattoo. The clever device provides cover from nosey co-workers and allows one to take quick in-office naps during a presumably exhausting day of collaboration.