Wednesday, July 4, 2012
HearBudz is a new company formed in collaboration between Transcend Financial Solutions, LLC and Arizona Technology Partners, LLC. Based in the Phoenix, Arizona area, HearBudz aims to solve three of the main problems with most traditional earbuds out there.
We all know someone who owns at least one ipod, ipad, iphone, or nano, if we don't ourselves. Given the prevalence of these products, most of us own, or at least have seen the white earbuds that come standard with all of these products. Over the years, many people have had issues with these earbuds, and several companies have attempted to solve some of these problems.
One major problem that a lot of companies seem to overlook is the safety issue. It should be obvious to just about anyone that putting earbuds in your ears, turning up the volume, and then going out into the world is very dangerous. However, many people do it anyway, sometimes to their own peril. A recent study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that the number of accidents involving pedestrians being hit by vehicles, where the pedestrian was wearing earphones, have tripled in the last 6 years. About 75% of those accidents resulted in death.
One other issue surrounding the use of earbuds is premature hearing damage. According to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, 6 and a half million teens have noticeable hearing loss, which is a 31% increase from a decade ago. What’s changed over the last decade is the increased use of earbuds. Blaring music directly into the ear canal puts a lot of pressure on the delicate structures of the ear drum. Using HearBudz could lower the risks of premature hearing loss by re-positioning the speaker from the ear canal to just outside of it.
The inspiration for HearBudz came on the ski slopes in Eastern Arizona. One of the founders, Scott MacDonald, went off on his own to ski some black diamond runs (which he probably had no business being on). Since he was by himself he popped in his earbuds and hit play on his ipod. Part way down the first run, he realized that something was just not right. He had no way to tell if someone was coming up from behind. If someone were coming up on the side while he was attempting to turn, he would have no way of knowing. Even if a warning was shouted out, it probably would not have be heard. The resulting crash at high speeds would undoubtedly be painful, to say the least. On the next lift back up the mountain, he decided to try to move the earbud from the ear canal to a new position just outside of it. He placed his earbud a little higher up on the ear, and then held it in place with his ski hat. This worked well. It was like having background music everywhere he went on the mountain, while still being able to hear what was happening around him.
When he got home from that trip, Scott worked on designing something that would give him the same effect, but without the hat. Like most areas of the country, especially the Phoenix, AZ area, it's just not practical to wear a ski hat everywhere. Scott set out to design something that would re-position the speaker of his existing earbuds to just outside of the ear canal. He needed it to be small, lightweight, comfortable, and adjustable. After a few design changes and many prototypes, the current HearBudz were born.