"What television does is rent us friends and relatives who are quite satisfactory. This is quite something, to rent artificial friends and relatives right inside the house."
As a plot device, this functions very well. It allows a third person to participate in the encounters between two other characters. Note also that this is a subvocal input unit, as well.
The idea of an implanted phone is used elsewhere (see the audio relay by Robert Heinlein). However, Herbert uses it as both surveillance as well as straightforward communications. Spying with the device sounds too sneaky for Heinlein.
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