I Confess That I'm Impressed with the God Pod

An office pod company pivots to isolation pods for the coronavirus crisis.

God Pod from Snap Cab
God Pod from Snap Cab.

Glen Bostock/ SnapCab

In normal times, SnapCab manufactured those prefab offices, phone booths, and meeting rooms you find in big open offices where there isn't any privacy and people need to make a phone call or have a quiet meeting. But with COVID-19 these are not normal times, and the company has pivoted to making coronavirus safe rooms; single-person offices with washable surfaces and HEPA filters in the ceiling so that people can work safely in their own private PPE.

But one of the most interesting versions of the SnapCab is the Consult, nicknamed the God Pod, a four-foot by six-foot pod with a divider down the middle. Mugoli Samba of the Globe and Mail describes how it works in St. John’s Lutheran Church in Ottawa:

“Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, pastors, parole officers … we’re all trained to need to use our [emotional intelligence] and read social cues from people,” says Rev. Joel Crouse, pastor at the church. He says the pod has been used for casual meetings and prayer, but also for grief and marriage counseling sessions.“And since the pandemic started, that whole aspect to conversation, interview, counseling, whatever you’re doing, is lost.”
Church Consult
SnapCab church consult. SnapCab 

SnapCabs are already UL listed for seismic loads and fire, and the God Pod is probably undergoing certification for brimstone, frogs, boils, locusts, hail, blood, and of course, plague.

SnapCab's CEO and owner Glen Bostock donated the prototype to help perfect the model, and says it can be used in many different ways, “whether you’re coming into a hospital, an office building, a law firm, a medical health center or a church.”

Snapcab Consult
SnapCap pod without Priest.  SnapCab

I personally think this is a terrific idea. I wear hearables (the modern fancy name for hearing aids) and find that masks are a huge problem; I don't get the visual cues from moving lips, and studies have shown that the voice through a mask is attenuated and distorted. This is not a minor inconvenience. From the study:

The data show that each type of medical mask in this study essentially functioned as a low-pass acoustic filter for speech, attenuating the high frequencies (2000-7000 Hz) spoken by the wearer by 3 to 4 dB for a simple medical mask and close to 12 dB for the N95 masks. This means the speech quality degradation, in combination with room noise/reverberation and the absence of visual cues, renders speech close to unintelligible for many patients with hearing loss.

In the God Pod, I could debate agnosticism and quote Christopher Hitchens without a mask.

Other Pandemic Pods

Fractal Workspace
Fractal Workspace where the cab is the PPE.  SnapCab

SnapCab has some other interesting iterations of their products for the coronavirus era; their SnapCab Workspace gives employees their little private offices on wheels where they can work without wearing a mask, and don't have to be like the guy in the middle, wondering why his phone won't recognize him.

Home office cab
CEO in home office cab. SnapCab 

But this Home Office Pod is really intriguing. In an earlier look at home office design, I noted that everyone is spending a lot of time on Zoom or Skype calls, getting photobombed by kids and dogs, or just overwhelmed by ambient noise. Having one of these, particularly with a proper green screen background, could be very useful. I have been invited on a couple of podcasts and presentations where great sound isolation, a properly mounted camera, and an impressive background would make a difference; for many, the home office is now a home studio.

But for almost everyone working at home, having a quiet, separate space like this could make people a lot more productive. SnapCab is on to something here.