HR Strange But True!
June 03, 2005

A new device called Babble may be just the thing for those who want to make sure that what's said in the cubicle stays in the cubicle.

About the size of a clock radio, Babble is a device composed of a sound processor and several speakers that multiply and scramble voices that come within its range. The New York Times describes the effect this way: "Two people in an office ? were having a tête-à-tête, but it was impossible for a listener standing nearby to understand what they were saying. The conversation sounded like a waterfall of voices, both tantalizingly familiar and yet incomprehensible."

The first version of Babble is designed for a person using a phone, but other models will work in open office space, according to the Times.

The device was developed by Applied Minds, a research and consulting firm founded by Danny Hillis, a distinguished computer architect, and Bran Ferren, an industrial designer and Hollywood special effects wizard.

The Times notes that Babble is just the latest example of a new class of product that uses computing technology to shape sound. Already on the market are headphones that can cancel extraneous noises and stereo systems that can direct sound to a particular location.

Source: The New York Times

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