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If you're used to a work soundtrack of printers, clacking keyboards and chatty co-workers, working at home during the coronavirus quarantine might feel extra strange.
A new interactive background noise generator called Calm Office lets you replicate typical office sounds like copy machines, printers, air conditioners and other humans (remember those?) with sliding bars that let you mix and match audio streams. You can, for example, just turn up the keyboard or talkative-colleague sounds, or mix them together and toss in some scanners and office clocks for the full cacophony.
There are also preset combinations, like "break time," "the late hours" and "geeks at work," which is just a lot of typing over the sound of air conditioning. Sorry, no background debates on Star Wars versus Star Trek going on in that one.
The Calm Office sound generator is a new addition to MyNoise.net, an extensive collection of background noises and interactive soundscapes that range from rain, thunder, ocean waves and Gregorian chants to cities around the world. MyNoise is also available as free iOS and Android apps.
Calm Office is, of course, particularly applicable now with so many people worldwide working from home.
"Most people want to cover their open-office sound, with more beautiful and less intrusive sounds, not generate open office sounds," creator Stéphane Pigeon, a Belgian engineer and sound designer, told me. "But now, I understand why some people actually like these sounds."
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The testimonials indicate the sounds are falling on appreciative ears.
"I still commute to the office since our company is considered an essential business in my city. So you can imagine how quiet the normally active office is right now," one wrote. "This generator has helped out in so many ways."
Wrote another: "This is so comforting, especially in these times of isolation," one wrote. "I miss the busy hoppy feeling of my colleagues around me, and the energy of a group of people doing work they enjoy. I hope things get back to normal soon."
Our new reality as coronavirus sends the world online13 Photos