Children's ears are much more sensitive to loud noises than adults', and babies are especially at-risk for hearing loss due to being exposed to jarring sounds and noises. Occasions such as concerts, parades, fireworks shows, and sporting events can be downright dangerous for little ears. Audiologists all over the world suggest that children's ears be covered during loud festivities, but it can be difficult to find hearing protectors for small heads and ears. Thankfully, a company called Lucid Audio has invented and released the "HearMuffs," in three models, which protect newborns to preschool-aged children from loud noises.

The HearMuffs Sounds go over a child's ears just like regular earmuffs, but they come with an innovative feature in that, with a push of a single button, parents can speak to their child without having to remove the earmuffs while keeping the noxious noises out. Moreover, the HearMuff Sounds can play four comforting sounds: a babbling brook, a lullaby, white noise, and a heartbeat. The HearMuffs were designed to be affordable and accessible with the HearMuffs Sounds retailing for $49.95 and the HearMuffs Soothe and HearMuffs Passive priced at $39.95 and $19.95. The HearMuffs have a patent pending GrowBand that adjusts and fits a wide range of head sizes. Made with super soft materials, the GrowBand comfortably protects the heads of babies and small children, and they are also machine washable.

Recently Gary Boyer, the Vice President of Sales, Marketing, Product & Inventory Management at Lucid Audio, granted an exclusive interview where he discussed the creation of HearMuffs and his experiences as a consumer technology developer.

Children's hearing and designing products

Meagan Meehan (MM): When and how did you get interested in developing products for children and why did something concerning hearing an appeal to you?

Gary Boyer (GB): Our CEO Tim Schnell damaged his hearing as a child, so he has a personal passion for helping the world hear better. Our Lucid Audio products focus on amplification, protection, and media and it made perfect sense for us to expand these offerings to every age group, especially hearing protection for young children.

Now whatever the situations we are exposed to, there are Lucid Audio products that can enhance our daily lives.

MM: What kinds of sounds can children be sensitive to that adults might not be fully aware of?

GB: Whether it’s a noisy restaurant, an older sibling’s sporting event, or shopping for groceries, there are always unforeseen spikes in ambient noise. As adults, we are typically so used to them we don’t even notice. A child is developing daily, so it is important to protect little ears from muffling harmful sounds.

MM: What prompted you to start designing the HearMuffs and how long did the project take from start to finish?

GB: We want to help people Hear Better at all ages and stages. If you start young, a hearing will be better as you grow older.

We worked for over a year to engineer, Design, and manufacture HearMuffs specifically for infants and toddlers. We had multiple groups of parents and children test different versions with different materials and features and provide input. From our patent pending GrowBand to every piece of the product being made from child safe materials, it is truly unique in the industry. Our experience in hearing aid design and work with audiologists provided the expertise for this revolutionary design and functionality for this product.

MM: What were the most challenging proportions to render?

GB: Every child is different, and head shapes come in all sizes. It is very hard to achieve the right fit on very young, small heads, so the product protects properly.

Our unique way to overcome this obstacle was the creation of the GrowBand. Our patent pending GrowBand enables the HearMuffs to fit every unique child comfortably, safely, and fashionably. As they grow larger, it can be removed, and the adjustable headband grows with your child.

Consumer response and advice for inventors

MM: How did you get HearMuffs on the market and what has the response been like?

GB: We launched the HearMuffs throughout the country in traditional retail, along with online simultaneously. The responses have been overwhelming, from the classroom, hospital, all the way to fireworks shows; we get a new story every day from our wonderful and enthusiastic customers. We use this feedback to constantly reimagine how we can improve our products to fit the needs of the consumer base.

MM: What is the best part of being an inventor and are you currently working on any cool new designs?

GB: Helping others through innovative and previously non-existing products is very fulfilling. We are always thinking of new ideas to improve current products, as well as continue to revolutionize life with new ideas to market. The process is never-ending, but we are up to the challenge!

MM: If an aspiring product designer/inventor asked you for advice, what insights could you offer them?

GB: What is a situation where people need help, and how can you help them? Listen, watch, and learn from others, and always be open to new ideas. We truly appreciate and value every one of our customers. Without them, Lucid Audio would not have the opportunity to reach so many people and help them improve their lives through hearing better, anytime, anywhere.