Tower of Babble
The New York Times features a cool device, the Babble from Applied Minds (since the article referred to the Cone of Silence from "Get Smart!", I took the chance to post a pic of one of my favourite shows):
The cone of silence, called Babble, is actually a device composed of a sound processor and several speakers that multiply and scramble voices that come within its range. About the size of a clock radio, the first model is designed for a person using a phone, but other models will work in open office space.Very useful in not-so-private cubicles. What I really think is interesting is the use of computing to do what used to be done by materials (acoustic tiling and so on) in acoustic design. Current speaker and mike technology can be very directed, and it's cool to be able to create the similar effect for voice... well, not quite the same, as people around still do hear what sounds like a conversation, but only an indistinct one.
Small design firms like Applied Minds or Ideo that adopt an interdisciplinary approach to develop products always intrigue me. I like seeing the confluence of ideas from very disparate fields.
Now for a shoephone... (Would you believe that link's on the CIA website? How about that the CIA has a Fine Arts Commission?)