Once upon a time, we talked on the phone in a scant few spaces. The home, the office, and the relative safety of phone booths. These days, a call can come in anywhere, and while it might not always be considered good manners to take the call, sometimes you can't get around it. The just-announced gadget Hushme wants to solve that problem, but I'm not sure it's going to catch on.

The idea is a good one. It's a sort of phone-muzzle, a device that covers your mouth and ears during a phonecall. The device wraps around your neck and covers your mouth, muffling any voice that might escape from the edges of the device during a conversation. On top of that, there's a speaker built into the mask that can play a sound whenever you're talking to mask your voice. Sounds offered range from subtle options like wind and ocean to silly stuff like monkey and squirrel sounds, up through apparently-licensed options like Darth Vader and Minions.

But it looks really creepy

It's a unique idea to address a very real problem. Public phone conversations can both be embarrassing for the caller when an unavoidable call comes up and irritating to listeners who didn't ask to be included on your call about that thing your kid did at school and you need to come pick them up now. A device that serves this purpose could even make working in a call center significantly less stressful. But it looks like something you'd see Batman villain Bane or fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter wearing. It's downright unnerving.

That's discounting the bulk of the device being counter-intuitive to the goals and user preferences associated with modern mobile phones.

Mashable says the team is aware of how weird it looks, and that it even has a quote it attributes to Albert Einstein: "For an idea that does not first seem insane, there is no hope."

The team has a working prototype of the gadget, and it plans to bring it to market next year for $249. A crowdfunding campaign is set to begin in May. If Hushme makes it to market, will the $249 be cheap enough to both mask your conversations and frighten small children? Jump into the comments and let us know.