The Babble-izer

Too noisy where you work? Office mates talk too loud? Now there’s a gadget that scrambles voices and makes noise easier to take. “It works by electronically listening, then repeating back random bits of what it hears. The resulting sound is blurred — as if familiar voices were speaking in a foreign language I can’t quite make out. We’re hard-wired to like the way the human voice sounds. The problem isn’t sound — the problem is that the search for meaning demands attention. Noise that settles into the background can be very pleasant.”