Hibermate product improvements coming soon... Better sound blocking, more comfort.
Posted by Chris Thomas on September 01, 2014. 1 Comment
When you're designing and building a new product from scratch, you hit some bumps along the way...
Shortly after we had completed manufacturing the new Hibermate in November 2013 and started sending them out to thousands of expectant Kickstarter backers the feedback came flying in thick and fast. In the first 24 - 48 hours the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. But soon afterwards much of the feedback turned really negative and the negativity began to feed on itself. It made for pretty tough reading.
Kickstarter backers can be pretty harsh! It's a wonderful platform, but it's also a double edged sword. If you try and kickstart your idea and you fail to meet some people's expectations, they'll come after you with a vengence.
I think many backers forget, Kickstarter is not Amazon.
Personally I didn't handle it well at all, I'd worked very hard to bring a brand new product to market and, if you've ever tried doing the same (on your own), receiving negative feedback from customers can easily knock you around. I got a bit down on myself and went into my shell for a while, hoping it would all blow over.
The biggest single complaint was that the new Hibermate didn't block enough sound. People loved the new mask but they wanted better sound blocking. We still receive that feedback today!
I'm not going to write about what went wrong between our prototyping and manufacturing, other than to say 'plenty'... Might make a good story for a second blog post later...
What I do want to write about today is that we've been listening to your feedback and working to improve the sound blocking effectiveness of the ear cups. As a result, I'm releasing some of the studies we commissioned in December last year by our design partners Cobalt Niche to test all sorts of modifications to the ear cups to try and make them block more sound. You can download the presentation here.
From the presentation, we've essentially gone with option B - but with more ammunition...
I was also very lucky to have a core group of super-positive Kickstarter backers who could see that the product had potential and they began to experiment and modify their Hibermates to try and make them block more sound.
The resulting research and feedback has led to a significant tooling change to thicken the back wall of the silicone ear cups by 5mm (or about 1/4 inch). I am anxiously waiting for 2 OTS (Off Tool Samples) to be delivered in the next couple of weeks and am really hoping that it will significantly improve sound blocking performance. We'll see - but if not, we have the option to thicken further. The trade-off with this modification is that the cups will weigh slightly more.
We have also been notified by our suppliers that there is a new kind of silicone to have hit the market recently which offers "Dampening Qualities". I've asked whether that means "sound dampening" or "vibration dampening" or something else altogether and am also waiting on a reply there.
If this new silicone does have sound reducing qualities you can be rest assured, I'll use it.
In addition, the foam we use for the ear cushions has been ditched in favour of more professional, high-end head phone type leatherette ear cushions.
We're still ironing out some issues regarding the secure fitment of the cushions into the cups (I'll be in Shenzen, China to work with our suppliers on this, this week) but it should be a formality and an easy problem to overcome. Again, our tests using prototypes showed additional sound blocking gains without sacrificing comfort using new ear cushions.
Finally, I've been working with a new graphics design company and we've completely redesigned the packaging. Here's a sneak peek:
The upshot is that I'm hoping we'll have a new and improved version of the Hibermate ready for sale before Christmas this year, with better packaging, new colours, better sound blocking and more comfortable than ever before.
To our Kickstarter backers, I want to say a big thank you. When you back something on Kickstarter, you back a creator and in many cases, a potential new business. Hey, I've backed tons of projects on Kickstarter myself!
And yes, sometimes the products I've received have underwhelmed me a little, but I know my support helps creators get a little closer to their goal of improving the world with their idea.
We would never have stayed in business if it weren't for our Kickstarter backers, thankfully we're still here and we're still innovating. I thank you guys again.
Feel free to drop me a line, or subscribe to our newsletter if you'd like to wait for the new and improved version, I'll send you an email when they're ready for shipping.
In the meantime, the current version is still a great option to try. Remember we offer a 30 day guarantee so if you're not happy with it, send it back for a full refund!