editor's blog
Subscribe Now

Cattle Call

Last week at Intel’s Data-Centric Innovations Conference, a rude attendee sitting a few seats away from me in the auditorium persisted in using his mobile phone during presentations. He attempted to muffle his voice by covering his mouth with his hand but only succeeded in garbling his words. He didn’t manage to mask the annoying noise. (He did achieve his goal of making his conversation private while remaining an annoyance.) Well, a failed Kickstarter product called the BloxVox sought to profit from people like this boorish attendee.

The BloxVox looks for all the world like a wear-all-day CPAP mask. To me, it resembles the oxygen mask you see B-17 crews wearing in World War II movies like “Twelve O’Clock High” to cope with the fact that the B-17 bomber wasn’t pressurized but was flown at high altitudes to avoid detection and flak. The microphone from your wired mobile phone headset tucks into a flap in the BloxVox mask, which supposedly captures all of the sound energy from your voice. Wear it, and you look like this dork:

The latest in business attire for team workers—the BloxVox. Image source: Kickstarter

That’s Freg Umhoefer, founder of BloxVox, modeling his company’s innovation and simultaneously masquerading as the supervillain Bane from the Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises.”

BloxVox is merely a reasoned response to the downward trend rampant with companies supplying workspace for its employees. Over half a century, we’ve gone from the individual offices featured in the 1960s period series “Madmen,” to cubicles, bullpens, and now “open” environments where everyone works at one big table. (For a chilling harbinger of this fate, see the prescient dystopian fantasy movie “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.”, written by Dr. Seuss and filmed in 1953.) Companies say that this workspace compression encourages team interaction and spirit and, oh by the way, saves on floorspace rental. We all know it’s the dollar savings that’s really driving this trend.

The dehumanizing BloxVox mask certainly may solve a problem, but I think there are a couple of big holes in this solution. First, like my rude companion attendee at the Intel Summit, this mask may only manage to garble the conversation, not muffle it completely. Second, Apple has already ensured that this mask is obsolete by obsoleting wired headsets in its newest iPhones. And you know how near and dear iPhones and their companion accessory gadgets are to the very population that might use the mask. Oh, and it makes you look like a doofus.

I very much fear that the future of knowledge working will have a frightening familiar feel:

Image source: Pixabay.

Leave a Reply

featured blogs
Dec 1, 2020
If you'€™d asked me at the beginning of 2020 as to the chances of my replicating an 1820 Welsh dresser, I would have said '€œzero,'€ which just goes to show how little I know....
Dec 1, 2020
More package designers these days, with the increasing component counts and more complicated electrical constraints, are shifting to using a front-end schematic capture tool. As with IC and PCB... [[ Click on the title to access the full blog on the Cadence Community site. ]...
Dec 1, 2020
UCLA’s Maxx Tepper gives us a brief overview of the Ocean High-Throughput processor to be used in the upgrade of the real-time event selection system of the CMS experiment at the CERN LHC (Large Hadron Collider). The board incorporates Samtec FireFly'„¢ optical cable ...
Nov 25, 2020
[From the last episode: We looked at what it takes to generate data that can be used to train machine-learning .] We take a break from learning how IoT technology works for one of our occasional posts on how IoT technology is used. In this case, we look at trucking fleet mana...

featured video

AI SoC Chats: Protecting Data with Security IP

Sponsored by Synopsys

Understand the threat profiles and security trends for AI SoC applications, including how laws and regulations are changing to protect the private information and data of users. Secure boot, secure debug, and secure communication for neural network engines is critical. Learn how DesignWare Security IP and Hardware Root of Trust can help designers create a secure enclave on the SoC and update software remotely.

Click here for more information about Security IP

Featured paper

Top 9 design questions about digital isolators

Sponsored by Texas Instruments

Looking for more information about digital isolators? We’re here to help. Based on TI E2E™ support forum feedback, we compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions about digital isolator design challenges. This article covers questions such as, “What is the logic state of a digital isolator with no input signal?”, and “Can you leave unused channel pins on a digital isolator floating?”

Click here to download the whitepaper

featured chalk talk

The Wireless Member of the DARWIN Family

Sponsored by Mouser Electronics and Maxim Integrated

MCUs continue to evolve based on increasing demands from designers. We expect our microcontrollers to do more than ever - better security, more performance, lower power consumption - and we want it all for less money, of course. In this episode of Chalk Talk, Amelia Dalton chats with Kris Ardis from Maxim Integrated about the new DARWIN line of low-power MCUs.

Click here for more information about Maxim Integrated MAX32665-MAX32668 UB Class Microcontroller