The new edition 2016 Hibermate Sleep Mask with Ear Muffs progress report...
Posted by Chris Thomas on June 06, 2015. 6 Comments
Each year I'm going to try and update the Hibermate until it's as perfect as I can make it.
Innovate or die!!!!
It's definitely come a long way since the first wonky prototypes were put together prior to the Kickstarter Campaign.
The current 2015 model is by far and away the best, but there are still criticisms from some customers and I'm super-grateful to them for letting me know where we need to improve.
I use a public form of Eric Reiss' The Lean Start-up methodology (great book by the way, if you're into product development), the loose idea being that I take each negative review or email feedback, distill down to what the top issues are and prioritize.
It helps you focus on exactly what you need to do and it's definitely not rocket science.
If you look down through the negative Amazon feedback, there's no doubt that side sleeping comfort is an issue, as is a need for more sound blocking.
You're never going to please everyone so you do need to be mindful not to change things around too much or get distracted just because you have 1 or 2 'squeaky wheels' that can easily lead you in the wrong direction.
Use the data you collect to make decisions objectively.
So while I was out at the Hong Kong Electronics Show back in April, I met up again with my great friend George, inventor of the super smart SIM card holder case - as well as some other cool stuff. George and I hung out and went to visit another friend of ours, Linda at Clave who make amazing headphones etc.
Linda took a look at the new 2015 Hibermate and I told her about all of the negative feedback it had received since launch (in a positive way!) .
Linda loves to innovate and she also has a lot of great connections. I left her with a Hibermate and a week later she emailed me saying she'd developed a new prototype of the ear cushions (not the cups yet, just the cushions).
A couple of days later, in the mail was a package from her with the new ear cushions inside.
Here's what they look like! (current ear cushion on the left, new 'ear pads' on the right and bottom)
I have to say that they are by far and away the best thing, like, ever.
This new ear 'pad' solves 3 issues simultaneously!
- They help reduce tons more sound and I do mean a LOT more.
- They 'spread the load' so side sleeping comfort is massively improved.
- They solve a lesser issue reported by some folks with larger sized ears who noted that the current ear cushions were a bit too small for them.
The only down-side is that they're more expensive as they use more of the high-end, moisture-wicking protein leather material.
The current protein leather ear cushions cost USD$1.70 each (not a pair) and the new ones will be approximately USD$2.00. Side note, I love the mark-ups on these components by other manufacturers. A replacement set of Beats Studio 2.0 ear cushions (basically the exact same as the ones in the Hibermate) retail for about USD$60.
Anyway, no big deal. Hopefully what we lose on the swings, we get back on the roundabout, as you'll see in a sec...
I caught up with Linda for breakfast at the Novotel in (Wan Chai, Hong Kong) on Friday morning and we're next working on the cups.
She has a copy of the CAD file we currently use and will have her designers have a play with it.
The main thing we're looking to do is to change the material we use from medical grade silicone to a soft Poly Urethane.
Poly Urethane (or PU) is currently used in most ear muffs on the market as it has inherent sound reducing qualities. Silicone isn't the best material for sound reduction, which sadly I've discovered since we started using it.
PU's also a lot cheaper (less than half the cost), not as heavy, doesn't feel as 'sticky' as silicone and doesn't attract as much dust.
The current Silicone cups cost USD$2.70 each (not a pair) so PU will reduce costs which I can pass on to customers.
Even though we'll likely be using a soft PU material, it 'should' block more sound. Linda's feeling pretty confident!
The first step will be to make a small batch of prototypes of the current ear cups to assess if there's more sound reduction.
If there's more sound reduction, we'll work to redesign the cups so they're lighter and smoother as well as try to make the cups a little more 'slimline'.
I love this stuff.