News Treehugger Voices Is This 'Connected Phone Booth' the Answer to Our Video Conferencing Needs? It looks like a better phone booth than a video studio. By Lloyd Alter Lloyd Alter Facebook Twitter Design Editor University of Toronto Lloyd Alter is Design Editor for Treehugger and teaches Sustainable Design at Ryerson University in Toronto. Learn about our editorial process Published February 10, 2021 04:23PM EST @Framery Share Twitter Pinterest Email News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices A lot of people are working from home these days, and probably looking for a quiet place for a Zoom call. It is likely to be a problem when people return to open offices and need to join a meeting as well. We have shown a few phone booths and pandemic pods before, but none so explicitly pitched for video conferencing. The Framery One is described as the "world's first connected phone booth as offices prepare for growing demand for video conferencing." According to the press release: "Open offices typically lack a variety of conference rooms and quiet areas to work, limiting video conference ability. Framery set out to create a product that solved these evolving workplace needs and developed a solo workspace for efficient video conferences. With Framery One, meetings and virtual conference calls can occur within these spaces without disturbing those around them. The top-of-the-line futureproof pod combines 4G technology and a digital ecosystem with superior acoustics and Framery’s distinguished design DNA." @framery The unit is supposed to be "a one-stop-shop for productivity and will allow workers to complete tasks and video conference from a comfortable and quiet environment." It is made of recyclable materials and has a "ventilation speed" of 29 liters per second. But is it any good for the way we work today? We are covering this on Treehugger after saying for many pre-pandemic years that working from home makes more sense than ever, eliminating commutes and needless duplication of space. For many people who are going to continue working from home, a video booth, rather than a phone booth, would be a very useful thing. But is the Framery One the one? Probably not. @framery The Framery One has an adjustable height desk on the wall, and a stool with a footrest so that it can be used as a standing or sitting desk, which is a nice touch. It meets the "new ISO 23351-1 standard for sound insulation. Users never have to worry about private conversations being overheard or disrupting coworkers, even if the pods are near desks." It would probably be terrific for making podcasts. @framery The trouble starts when you think about doing a video conference. If you read Shelly Palmer's guide to setting up a home office for video, you don't want to be using a notebook computer on a desk with a camera that's aiming up; you want the camera above eye level looking slightly down. You don't want the light directly above your head; according to Shelly, you want "a single light source directly in front and slightly above you (right on top of the camera)" rather than glass walls on either side, where you are at the mercy of ambient light. You probably want the background to be a green screen, and wide enough to fill the field of view in your camera. @framery People generally look better with a slightly longer than normal lens; that's why portrait photographers use short telephotos of 85mm to 135mm. According to William Sawalich in Digital photo magazine, a normal or wide-angle lens "exaggerates features like noses and eyes and chins, making them look unnaturally large and stretched out. But because longer lenses compress the elements in a scene, features appear smaller and closer together." That's why I use a separate camera so that I can zoom in a bit, standing further back (between 36" and 40" from my computer and camera), to give a flatter, softer look to my aging features; it takes more depth than this 40" deep Framery One can offer. @framery The Framery One is a lovely phone booth, something that is needed in many offices and not a few homes. But it should not be pitched as "technologically-advanced workspaces for successful virtual collaboration." It's a shame, because there is a real need for such a thing. If people are going to work from home, or if they are going to videoconference from the office (and there is going to be a lot more of that as people in the office connect with those at home) they should look professional, they should look their best, and you can't do that with a crappy notebook computer webcam looking up your nose. We need a Framery Two that has this figured out.