Bizarre Bluetooth mouthpiece mutes speech in public places

Bizarre Bluetooth mouthpiece mutes speech in public places
The Mutalk is a wearable microphone that mutes your voice from people around you
The Mutalk is a wearable microphone that mutes your voice from people around you
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The Mutalk is a wearable microphone that mutes your voice from people around you
The Mutalk is a wearable microphone that mutes your voice from people around you

We’ve all been annoyed by someone taking a loud call in a quiet room, and now a Japanese tech company has unveiled a creative, if somewhat bizarre, solution. The Mutalk is a Bluetooth mouthpiece that “mutes” users who speak into it.

Developed by Shiftall, the Mutalk looks a bit like a VR headset that you wear over your mouth. It works on a principle first described over 160 years ago, called a Helmholtz resonator – essentially, the device is designed to create an air pressure pocket in the inner cavity, which keeps sound frequencies from escaping through the air hole.

In effect, the Mutalk muffles a wearer’s speech by -20 decibels, or as much as -30 decibels for louder noises. According to Shiftall, even people sitting right next to the wearer won’t be able to hear what they’re saying. And yes, the cushion bit that you’ll be spitting into is washable.

Mutalk can be connected to Apple and Android phones, and Windows and iOS computers and laptops, through Bluetooth or the headphone jack. It charges through USB-C, and can apparently get up to eight hours of use out of the battery.

The idea is that you can use Mutalk to hold meetings, take phone calls or voice chat in public without bugging everyone in the cafe or blurting trade secrets across the bar. It should also help block out the background noise of those loud places, so the people on the other end of the line can only hear you. It might also come in handy to let people chat or play games late at night without waking the household.

The device works in a couple of ways. If you’re going to be talking a lot, you can go hands-free and strap it to your face. But if you’re just popping in and out, you can hold it up to your mouth when you need it and leave it on the table when you don’t. A built-in sensor will keep the Mutalk on mute when it’s not pressed up against your face.

We have to say though, it doesn’t look too comfortable – not just to wear, but because everyone in the room will no doubt be staring at the weirdo in the Bane mask. It seems like it’s tackling a problem that could be easily solved by just moving the call somewhere else.

We’re also skeptical about how well it would actually work. Shiftall has a video (below) demonstrating the Mutalk blocking out background noise for those on the call, but no live demo of what people around the wearer would actually hear.

If it’s still something you could see yourself using, Shiftall says it’ll start shipping from November or December, and will cost ¥19,900 (around US$139).


Source: Shiftall

So you go to a cafe, put one of these things on, and make a phone call? How about: find a quiet spot, make a phone call, then go to the cafe? Even in Tokyo, if you walk off whatever Main Street you're on, you'll find a quiet place to make a call.
The oddity of its appearance notwithstanding, if it works as advertised and is sufficiently sensitive, there are some real use cases. Court reporters/stenographers, anyone who uses the phone in a busy open office or, as in my case, uses dictation/voice command software out of necessity, and needs both high-sensitivity for good recognition, and sound muting for the sanity of their officemates.
Um, I'm ... speechless!
No. I still don't understand. How exactly does one fit one's cell phone into it? I think one has to link one's phone to the Mutalk by wire.
Microphones like this have been in use by translators in Canada for decades, in courtrooms and the like. (Though not in cellphone compatible form, I think.) It lets them do their work without disturbing anyone else in the room.
A modern take on Get Smart's Cone of Silence: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cone_of_Silence_(Get_Smart)
The imbeciles yelling into their phones can save themselves $139 if someone would just convince them that there's a microphone inside that flat little glass and metal thing they're holding up to their mouths.