Sound of silence: How Framery smart pods are tackling noisy offices with new technologies

Framery sound-proof pods in use
(Image credit: Framery)

If you’ve ever struggled to find a quiet space in the office, or a meeting room that’s available when it says it should be, then Framery’s latest line of sound-proof smart pods may catch your eye. 

The Finnish company, which counts Microsoft and Tesla as customers, has been looking at how its technology can better facilitate a productive workplace as more and more businesses return, at least in part, to the office – and it thinks it has the answer. 

TechRadar Pro got an exclusive look at the new range of Framery smart pods, featuring A-class sound-proofing, intelligent lighting and ventilation, and a new workplace technologies suite tailored to office managers. But are they any good? We went to Tampere, Finland, to find out.  

It’s oh so quiet

Finland is a quiet country, parked in northern Europe, a chilly expanse of snowfields and stark forests and pockets of buzzing life. It’s hard to believe, in the continent’s third most-sparsely populated country, that noise could ever be a problem. But that’s exactly how Framery came about. 

The legend is famous now. When Samu Hällfors and a friend complained that their boss was talking too loudly on the telephone, he told them to buy him a phone booth. When they couldn’t find a suitable one, they made their own. That was in 2010. Today, the company is a market leader in soundproof pods. 

Framery CEO Hällfors couldn’t be happier, and though a cool character, he gave us an exclusive tour of his company’s latest smart pods with the glee of a child showing off his Christmas presents. 

The new range introduces the Framery One Compact, Framery One, Framery Four, and Framery Six. Modular, durable, and kitted out with some impressive noise-canceling technology. If you’re familiar with the company’s original sound-proof pods, this line-up, and the simpler naming conventions, will be familiar terrain: one-person, four-person, six-person rooms, and a slim, phone booth-style pod that, with its tall silhouette and curved edges looks undeniably, perhaps fittingly, like a iPhone.

Framery sound-proof pods in use

(Image credit: Framery)

They’re well-designed, of course, and neutral enough for most modern offices. Billed as the world’s most sustainable pods, they’re also cheaper than earlier generations, Hällfors told us, and cheaper than the cost of building new, equivalently sized meeting rooms, according to the company’s research. These new smart, sound-proof pods are more modular durable, and lighter in weight. But it’s the technology that really impressed us. 

You don’t realize how loud an office can be until you step inside one. We spent most of our time in the spacious Framery Four, with two cushioned benches either side of a desk-space. Even living our lives in noise-canceling headphones, we had our doubts at first. But after closing the door, the change was seamless. The outside silent, sound-proofed even as people walked by, made calls. The inside, cosseted from exterior noise by  the faint hum of pink noise cunningly tuned to the same frequency as human speech. 

The sound-proofing is in evidence both inside and outside, with the pods employing Framery’s Office Sound Masking System, which the company said, “uses a proprietary sound spectrum to reduce speech intelligibility and noise distractions in areas outside of the pods.” And it works. Standing outside the pod, listening carefully – very carefully, for it’s almost but not quite inaudible, we heard it. Ambient and unobtrusive, further helping to block out unwanted office sounds and increased privacy. Using mmWave radar sensors, these pods also monitor and automatically adjust lighting and airflow, and combined with the acoustic barriers, we simply didn’t notice it at play. That’s the highest compliment you can pay a discrete system like this.

Framery sound-proof pods in use

(Image credit: Framery)

At the heart of the new line-up is the high-resolution touchscreen tablet and integrated workplace technologies suite. According to Hällfors, this is unique to Framery, and when asked, told us no other pod manufacturer has introduced this level of functionality – not on such a bespoke level. It’s where users can reserve workspaces (there is, inevitably, an app for that, too), or access more refined control over lighting and ventilation during meetings. In use, we found it smooth, responsive, and intuitive. We could adjust airflow simply by swiping up and down. A tap saw us quickly make a reservation, a single dragging motion let us extend the duration in the calendar view. 

“Our workplace technologies suite further tailors the workspace to the true needs of employees, helping to end the scramble to secure meeting spaces,” said Arto Vahvanen, Framery’s Head of Digital Offerings & Customer Experience. “Research shows office-based employees can lose up to 30 minutes a day trying to find somewhere suitable to work. With smart pods, we can ensure people always have enough space to meet, collaborate and focus.”

All that usage generates plenty of useful real-time occupancy data – it’s non-identifiable and anonymized, the company said, but will be incredibly useful for facilities and office managers. Accessed online or via the touchscreen, the suite makes monitoring high-traffic and low traffic pods more efficient. Relocating pods is now an exact science, because again, in our brief time within the suite, we found it was easy to assess which pods and areas were most popular, peak times, all presented simply on-screen. Data, data, data, and more data is the name of the game here. 

Of course, that information is only for pod usage. For the broader office, comes the launch of the Framery Connect sensors. Fitting into the company’s technologies suite, and designed for both pods and traditional workspaces, these devices are capable of tracking behavioral data and sending that back to those who need those vital analytics for greater oversight. 

It offers a glimpse at the importance of data for both Framery and its users. As the business pivots from office furniture manufacturer to technology company, Hällfors, said: “We've gathered more than 8,000 pieces of user feedback to create the ultimate privacy pods, made for people.” Whether the new range can tempt WFH-lifers back to the office remains to be seen, but at least it’s easier to find a quiet meeting room. 

  • Check out Framery's new smart pod range here
Steve Clark
B2B Editor - Creative & Hardware

Steve is TechRadar Pro’s B2B Editor for Creative & Hardware. He explores the apps and devices for individuals and organizations that thrive on design and innovation. A former journalist at Web User magazine, he's covered software and hardware news, reviews, features, and guides. He's previously worked on content for Microsoft, Sony, and countless SaaS & product design firms. Once upon a time, he wrote commercials and movie trailers. Relentless champion of the Oxford comma.