[dropcap size=small]L[/dropcap]et’s get straight to the elephant in the room. New privacy tech gadget HushMe is not going to win awards for product design, but the physics of sound demands its form. When you want to screen those within earshot out of your private conversation, you either expend the time to find an unoccupied room or send everyone else out.

Except there is a third option now, and it looks like this.

Scroll / swipe right to see how the HushMe works.

At first glance the HushMe may provoke mirth – snarky reactions by news outlets have not disappointed – and that alone has been a dire push factor for many failed wearables (remember the Google Glass?). But instead of just novelty and cool factor, the product offers up a concrete means of securing a precious commodity: ultimate privacy, in portable format.

By trapping the sound from speech within an enclosed space, the HushMe foils conventional eavesdroppers and even listening bugs placed by private investigators and their ilk. Professional lip-readers, too, will draw a blank since your mouth is obscured from view. The device can also emit noises to mask even your inflection and tone of voice, although that can make you even more conspicuous.

It’s decidedly unfortunate that the device had to take on a form considered comical by the tech-averse. But the alternatives would have been bulky, helmet-like apparatus a la spacesuits, or daily security sweeps of your office. Futhermore, the portability and expedience HushMe provides doubles up if you’re a jetsetter that’s frequently in transition. There’s also the added benefit of sounding clearer to the other person on the line.

Could devices similar to this one day become the norm? It’s not hard to imagine. You heard it here first.

The HushMe is expected to retail at about S$290. More details at their website.