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New 2016 model update - trip to Guangzhou next week!

Posted by Chris Thomas on September 10, 2015. 2 Comments

After a very long summer school holiday break here in Hong Kong it's time to get back to work in earnest. In late June, we travelled as a family to (a chilly and cold) Australia for 3 weeks (friends and family trip), then came back to Hong Kong for a week before having a 'proper' holiday in Thailand.

Photo: Libby and the kids, Koh Mak, Thailand.

The kids are back at school now at last which frees me up again to re-focus on the new model Hibermate.

This year, there has been lots of feedback about the 2015 model from customers and all criticisms and suggestions for improvement have been recorded. I've prioritized my efforts and improvements based on the feedback. I'm seriously grateful to my customers for their input.

I mentioned in a previous post that some big changes are likely for the ear cushions. Depending on final prototypes, we'll switch from the classic high-end headphone-type ear cushions to a larger, softer 'ear pad' to help block more noise and be much more comfortable for side sleepers. It'll also fit all ear sizes.

Next week, I'm heading to Guangzhou, a city in China I haven't visited before, so I'm super excited.

Next Friday's trip is to visit Linda and her team at www.clavechina.com who specialize in designing custom high-end audio products, such as headphones and ear buds. 

It's so important to network when you're a product developer/retailer as you get introduced to people who can help take your products to the next level. There's nothing like word of mouth referrals.

I met Linda through my American friend George Gruber (inventor of an amazing sim card holder) and we immediately hit it off. Over the years, she and her team have designed and developed a range of custom audio products for a bunch of customers from Spain to the USA and Australia.

One of her customers is Phil Johnson, a super successful guy and all round legend. He and I spent a couple of hours talking about product development, all the challenges and the fun that comes with the process.

He spoke so highly of Linda and I really can't wait to start working alongside her and her team in earnest. Just as an aside, Phil's new venture is http://www.brunsacoustics.com/ - and Linda has been working with him on this exciting range of high-end, retro audio products.

Anyway, the big things we'll be exploring next week are the redesign of the ear cups and "eeeek" the potential to include some speakers inside.

Popping speakers inside the cups is a risk on a couple of fronts.

  1. The first is that consumer electronics can fail from time to time...
  2. The second is the fierce competition online (and on Amazon) in that space.

At the moment, from an online perspective, the Hibermate dominates for Google'd keywords such as "sleeping ear muffs" and "ear muffs for sleeping" etc. It's a small but rich niche in a tiny corner of the internet.

Optimising for keywords like "sleeping head phones" etc is hugely more challenging as there are some great products in the category.

I suspect though, that's there's potential (cash-flow permitting) to create a range of related and interchangeable products.

So that might mean for example, we have a sleep mask version with speakers and a sleep mask version without them (simple ear muffs like we do now).

A headband version is also in the radar, so that might extend the range to a headband version both with, and without speakers.

That's 4 products right there.

Very tempting.


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Would love to hear your thoughts... please feel free to add any comments below...!


Hello! I’m happy I came to check the news here, so I read about the upcoming 2016 version. I will stay tuned because more sound blocking and a more comfortable side sleep sound great, just the improvements I wish for! By the way I also find that the 2015 mask is a bit too wide (from one ear to another I mean), so the ear muffs are a bit too far from where they should be to be the most effective. Anyway, I’m longing for the 2016 version’s launching! And I would be interested in the ability to use speakers, and in the headband too :)
Posted by Océane on November 02, 2015
Hi Chris ! Thanks for the update, I look forward to purchasing the 2016 version very soon ! To be honest I am not really interested in the “speakers” idea, I think most people who purchased your product were looking for something to help them sleep. I purchased the 2015 one and it is just as I expected, it doesn’t block ALL sounds but that looks enough for me to get back to sleep. Also the cushions are quite painful when I sleep on either side, but I guess you already know. So for the next version you can focus on sound isolation and comfort for side sleeping :) Kind regards
Posted by Sylvain on October 02, 2015

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