Chatty co-workers, ringing phones, shrieking children, traffic, and construction noise — all of these distractions can really hamper your productivity when you’re trying to work, especially if you tend to have trouble focusing. Telling people you need some peace and quiet doesn’t always cut it, and even the best of noise-cancelling headphones won’t keep your gaze from wandering over to the people around you. Have you ever wished you could have your own personal cone of silence wherever you go?
Meet the Helmfon, a privacy helmet equipped with all sorts of technological features like Bluetooth, Skype, audio, voice messaging, notifications from your smartphone, and more. Made up of a fiberglass shell, membrane cloth lining, and polyethylene foam insulation, the helmet comes equipped with a system board, microphone, speakers, magnifier, and a smartphone mount, so you can look straight ahead to interact with your phone or look down to work.
Developed by Ukrainian design firm Hochu-rayu, the Helmfon was created to give us all a little more personal space in situations where we have to work alongside others. The helmet blocks out all background noise and dampens sound from within, too, so people nearby can’t hear your conversations as well as they could if you weren’t wearing it. You can either use it unplugged as a way to withdraw from the people around you and concentrate on a task or turn on its tech functions for phone calls and video chats.
Okay, so there’s no getting around the fact that it’s pretty silly, and if you’re the only person in your office looking like The Dark Helmet from Spaceballs meets Marvin the paranoid android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you might feel a little too conspicuous. However, the designers at Hochu-rayu envision their helmets being used in groups as a company perk, where they might be available to any employees who want to use them or even mounted to a wall or ceiling so someone could step inside and make calls from within — so at least you wouldn’t be the only one wearing it.
The appearance of the helmet is rather bulky, and the company doesn’t specify its weight, but with a fiberglass construction, it seems like the Helmfon would be comfortable enough to wear. It’s available in a range of bright colors and designed to be customized, so you can decorate yours to look like Batman, put a hat on it, paint it, or alter it to any other specifications you have in mind.
The Helmfon story dates back to September of 2016, when a company called Limelight Networks asked Hochu-rayu to create private meeting rooms in their office for Skype calls. The designers felt that this was an inefficient use of space, and came up with something more compact. “We’ve spent a lot of time at Limelight Networks’ office, trying to find out the problems which their employers were faced with and studied the needs of those people,” they say. “After that research we understood that our project needed to become something more than just a ‘blocking inside sound device.’ We aimed to create a thing which would help concentrate on work process and use office time efficiently.”
“The Helmfon name is made by combining 2 words — helmet and phone. Helmet shape will visually provide a person with some personal space, while phone functions will allow them to communicate with the outside world.”