#267: Hushtone

Exactly 20 years ago, somebody bought me a Braun electronic alarm clock that has since become a ‘design classic’. The really cool thing then, back in the days of analogue, was that it was ‘voice controlled’ ie you could get the alarm to stop sounding by shouting ‘Stop’ at it.

So two decades later, I’m sitting in a meeting with several lawyers and businesspeople who have forgotten, as usual, to switch their mobile phones off. They each ring once or twice and, every time, someone has to delve into their expensive, hand-tooled, multipocket brief case to find their phone, press several different buttons and eventually silence them.


Today’s invention is simply to equip mobile phones with enough voice control to allow them to ‘Divert’ to answerphone or just ‘Stop’ making that racket, when instructed to do so verbally.

It seems to me eminently possible to achieve this with the electronics we currently have available. Taking that a step further, it should be feasible, on entering a meeting room, to be able to say ‘Phone standby’ and thus avoid all that inappropriate in-meeting ringing.

Maybe in future, phones could automatically respond on hearing one’s standard meeting-start phrases, such as “Hello, good to meet you…” -thus allowing semi-automatic call diversion.

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