The Hibermate sleep mask is a super-comfortable, luxury eye mask with removable ear muffs especially designed for sleep.
My name is Chris Thomas. I'm the proud owner of the Hibermate. I'd like to tell you how the Hibermate sleep mask (with removable ear muffs for sleeping) came about, and why I got into this fun business.
Back in '92 I used to work night shift for a pre-press company (http://www.tennysongraphics.com.au). I'd start at 10.30pm and finish at 8.00am, four days a week. I've gotta tell you, it was a killer! Every weekend, I'd try and stay up during the day to catch up with friends, basically resetting my body clock. I had permanent jet lag for two years!
My father and brother ran a company manufacturing foam, and I got to talking with them about the possibility of creating some soft foam ear muffs for sleeping to help block sound because ear plugs were driving me crazy! (unwanted noise was the most difficult aspect to control while sleeping during the day). They suggested a few things and together we came up with an effective solution which I can tell you now really works.
My house-mate at that time was a nurse, and she used to work night shift as well. She tried on the sleep mask and absolutely loved it. The next thing I knew I was making sleep masks for her and all her work-mates. It didn't take long for me to realise that I had invented the only product in history, targeted directly at a market that had always been completely ignored by everyone else: - The night worker. In January of 2000, I recruited one of the best seamstresses in the business and we started to make them properly!
Then, as I investigated the possibility further, I realised that travelers could use the combined sleep mask and ear muffs for sleeping too.
And then one day a friend of mine got sick, so I took a Hibermate into the hospital to help him sleep while he recovered. Yep you guessed it, nearly everyone on the entire WARD wanted one!
I've been asked why don't I sell the Hibermate in stores? The answer is simple. I want to control the entire process of manufacture to delivery and after sales support. I don't trust stores to provide the kind of service I want to provide and the kind of service that you expect. This isn't some fly by night internet company, it's one with a terrific product which will exceed your expectations. We've been in business selling sleeping masks with ear muffs since January 2000, I receive an astoundingly low rate of product return, which I think speaks volumes about the Hibermate sleep mask's quality, effectiveness and integrity.
I also realise that for some people sleep masks with ear muffs just don't work, yet for others, they can't sleep without one. It's a very personal thing, because it's a very personal, intimate product. That's why I offer a no-questions-asked-money-back-guarantee. Purchase the Hibermate now, and if it's "just not for you", then send it back, there's no hard feelings - REALLY! - I want to make sure that you're happy! If you're not happy, it's bad for business - it's very simple.
This project began a few years back when we received feedback from some of our customers that the current design didn’t block enough sound for them. We looked for inspiration online by searching Google to see if anyone else had solved the problem. It turned out that no-one ever has, so we decided to!
The first step was to make sure if we invented an ear muff for sleeping, no-one else held a patent which we could be infringing on. In 2011/12 we engaged ActuateIP, an Intellectual Property Law firm to conduct a world-wide patent search. They found several patents which were vaguely similar, but certainly not covering what we wanted to invent. That gave us the green light to proceed.
Our friend, Abigail Forsyth invented the KeepCup, the world’s first re-usable and barista-friendly coffee cup to help the environment. She entrusted one of Australia’s leading product development companies, Cobalt Niche to design and bring her invention to life. After speaking with Abi, we provided a brief to Cobalt Niche who began to research, sketch and CAD model the designs before creating prototypes. Cobalt Niche are ‘big’ on branding and wanted to ensure the outside of the cups were visible for branding/messaging etc. After 3 rounds of prototyping, we finally held in our hands the most beautiful and effective result we could have wished for! (mind you, we'll always keep exploring ways to improve on it!)
The next step was to head back to ActuateIP to develop and file a provisional patent (global) for the ear cups (filed in December 2012).
Around this time, we also engaged GaskaTape, who are foam experts to source and die-cut really soft sound reducing memory foam to fit the cups and create an effective and comfortable sound seal. The foam is quite effective at reducing noise under slight compression.
Baron Rubber was engaged to manufacture the new cups from medical grade silicone. We chose silicone over plastic for 2 reasons. After consulting with an industrial Chemist we discovered that silicone is bacterially resistant and is also fully recyclable, something that’s very important to us. They’ve created the tool used to manufacture the ear cups and the very first printed batch of 16 branded silicone cups (in jet black) were delivered just after the video was shot.
The next phase was engaging our expert seamstresses, Arwin, Julia and Sharna from the Sample Room. Again we went through a rigorous prototyping and testing phase until we came up with a working prototype. We are still refining the mask to be slightly larger and the bands more stretchy, durable and wide (a little bit like satin bra-strap elastic).
Our agent here in Australia helping us with the manufacturing of the masks (www.bluegum.com.au) is a member of Ethical Clothing Australia and internationally has offshore partners who are accredited with Fair Labor Association and WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production).
The Hibermate is very good at blocking sound, but it will not block 100% of noise. There are no ear muffs or ear plugs on the market which block 100% of sound and the Hibermate is no different.
We don’t want to talk the Hibermate down; it’s BY FAR the best sound blocking product designed for sleeping and relaxing on the market, bar none; but it is not an industrial ear muff designed for airports and other insanely noisy environments.
Ultimately we will have the Hibermate NRR rated for the US market, but at this stage, the Hibermate’s preliminary sound reduction test has rated it an Australian SLC Class 1 Sound Reduction Device which means it can be used in environments up to 90dB. We estimate it has a NRR of somewhere between 12-15dB.
Ultimately we will have the Hibermate NRR rated for the US market.