We’ve all had a peaceful commute or coffee shop work session compromised by some Patrick Bateman-looking dude taking the world’s loudest business call in public — with simply nothing to be done about it besides giving a side-eye so cutting it could shape diamonds. Now, a group of entrepreneurs, engineers, and aerospace professionals have come up with Skyted — “a disruptive sound absorbing open air mask” designed to create a cone of silence around your phone calls, privacy for virtual meetings, and top-secret clearance for your online gaming.
The campaign was initiated by Stephane Hersen, the former head of business development for aerospace corporation Airbus’s Asia-Pacific Cabin Division. The project leverages technology that reduces jet engine noise — and therefore stands half a chance at dampening down the blowhard in Business class on his third Chablis. With six days yet to go in its crowdfunding period, the project has well exceeded its $8,800 goal, currently funded at $162,551. Clearly there is a rabid audience for this product, as Hersen must well know, after working on First and Business class seating for an international airline.
“I created Skyted to answer one airline painpoint,” Hersen wrote in his project bio on Kickstarter. “How can 300 passengers have a call during a flight without impacting cabin quietness?” In other words, Hersen wants to find a way for travelers in close confinement with people who absolutely cannot wait to take their deeply important calls to continue to enjoy their complimentary pretzels and Guardians of the Galaxy viewing in peace.
Now that the project has been massively funded, Skyted is moving forward to launch their two silent mask product lines, one which addresses the proliferation of hybrid workers in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic landscape (as well as gamers and casual travelers), and another especially geared toward business travelers. According to press materials related to the Skyted release, the masks are engineered to absorb 80% of voice vibrations and can be combined with noise-cancelling earbuds that help the caller ignore all those annoying people daring to exist in the same airspace as their important conference call.
The mass production phase is scheduled for May of this year, according to the Kickstarter page, with distribution slated for December. If all goes well, you can wear one to Christmas dinner and call your aunt Linda a bitch right to her face without her knowing!
So Skyted appears to be good news for almost everyone: the people who want to take phone calls in public, and the people who don’t want to listen to them take phone calls in public. But there are still a few outliers that will find this an unwelcome development. For one thing, it could be potentially devastating to the Overheard New York franchise. For another, it is bizarre-looking. And for every marginally pro-social person who is willing to shell out for some public phone privacy, it’s hard not to believe that there are many more people who take loud phone calls in public precisely because they want to draw attention to themselves.
Although at least in this final respect, the ostentatious weirdness of Skyted might work in their favor — now they can draw attention to themselves by looking like Mad Max: Business Casual and still keep their middling conversations confidential. One suspects this look pairs well with the Tesla cybertruck and tickets to Burning Man, so if you squint a little, we are just one water war away from the glory road Mad Max promised us all. If you’ve got to commute, commute historic!!