Bizarre Bluetooth mouthpiece mutes speech in public places
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).