‘Cone of Silence’ Keeps Conversations Secret

In Get Smart, the 1960s TV spy comedy, secret agents wanting a private conversation would deploy the cone of silence, a clear plastic contraption lowered over the agents’ heads. It never worked — they couldn’t hear each other, while eavesdroppers could pick up every word. Now a modern cone of silence that we are assured will work is being patented by engineers Joe Paradiso and Yasuhiro Ono of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their idea, revealed in US patent application 2009/0097671 on 16 April, is to make confidential conversations possible in open-plan offices and canteens. It will even let a conversing group move around a room and still remain in a secure sound bubble

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