Every so often, I encounter an unusual technology device that so well solves a problem that I have encountered many times that I cannot imagine not adding the product to my arsenal of tools, even if it is not something that I would necessarily use every day.
The Hushme is one such offering.
Hushme is an unusual-looking headset that sports a single unusual, but tremendously significant, feature – it allows a person to carry on a conversation over the phone without anyone around them being able to hear what they are saying – that is, it lets people make private phone calls from non-private environments. It also enables people to make calls in unusually noisy environments, and reduces the amount of background noise heard by others on the call.
Whether while commuting on a public bus or train (as so many people normally do in the New York City area in which I live), sitting in shared office space, relaxing in a public park, or working from home while quarantined with family members, people using the Hushme device can enjoy much greater privacy than they would be able to achieve with typical headsets, and can also demonstrate respect for their neighbors; after all, how many bus riders like to hear someone next to them yapping on the phone?
It takes some time to get used to, but Hushme is simple to use. After putting on the headset and connecting it to a phone (it offers both wired and Bluetooth connectivity), all I had to do to keep my conversations private was to speak much softer than I normally do – the microphones in the headset are quite sensitive, and people on the other end of the call could hear me clearly even when I spoke at near-whisper volumes. In fact, nobody who I called while using the Hushme headset indicated that anything about my voice seemed unusual.
With the help of my children, I tested the effectiveness of Hushme’s privacy feature; I asked one of my daughters to sit on the same wrap-around couch as me in our family room, and another to call me on the phone from her bedroom upstairs. I had an entire conversation on the phone – and, while my daughter upstairs heard every word that I said over the phone, my daughter who was sitting less than ten feet away from me could not make out even the topic of the conversation.
The Hushme headset is much larger than a pair of earbuds – some might even say that while wearing it I looked a bit like a friendlier version of Tom Hardy’s Bane from the 2012 Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises – but, the size is to be expected, as there is simply no practical way to sufficiently muffle one’s voice while speaking without adequately covering the entire area of one’s mouth. Ironically, however, the same COVID-19 pandemic that created a need among professionals around the world to keep conversations isolated from noisy children in the background also enabled me to wear the Hushme mask in public without drawing attention to myself – when I covered the device with a surgical mask, few people walking by me on the street seemed to notice that I was wearing the Hushme.
Hushme is not going to become my everyday headset – I have much smaller and lighter preferences that I regularly use for phone calls, listening to music, and while swimming, and those devices are more certainly comfortable when worn outdoors during a hot New York summer. I also do not plan to start making extremely sensitive calls from public places, or without various other specialized technology that I presently use for such communications. But, for many of the other situations in which I have to make calls from public places, especially while indoors or during colder months, and for when I resume taking public transportation post pandemic, I plan to use the Hushme.
(Please note: Many technology vendors send me their devices with a request for me to take a look at their offerings; I consistently tell such vendors that while they are free to send me whatever they would like, and that I try to eventually tinker with every potentially useful device that is sent to me, I do not promise to write reviews, to post on social media, or to to perform any other publicity functions in exchange for products. Likewise, I inform such vendors that even if every device sent to me were amazing, I have the bandwidth to write about only a small percentage of the devices sent to me. That said, if and when I do discover a particularly interesting offering about which I believe much of my audience is as of yet unaware, I sometimes do write about my experiences with it. In any and all such cases, I do not accept any payments from the respective vendors; any sponsored content on my website is clearly labeled as such.)