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GRIND Earmuffs

The next generation earmuffs aimed at people working in noisy environments.

Photo of Anton Ahlin
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Earmuffs are a common everyday product for people in construction and noisy environments. However, earmuffs are not a life style product but seen as functional work gear. Our goal is to challenge the current design norm and attract a new generation of workers with a well designed waste free product.

The GRIND Eearmuffs will be built using Footwear Fiber "Fluff", EVA Foam Sheets and processed Rubber Granulate.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Granulate
  • EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"

How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?

We will use fiber “fluff” in the muffs for maximum comfort. EVA Foam Sheets & Blocks will work well as a noise reduction layer. Processed Rubber Granulate will be used as the outer layer which will serve as protection and will give the earmuffs a robust feel. This will also be used for the headband. The tests we have done have shown that our initial idea is possible but moving ahead we will have to fine tune and adjust to find the perfect binder and surface treatment to make sure that the headphones feel sturdy and high end.

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

We believe that there is a new generation of construction workers and people working in environments where earmuffs is a necessity. The options available right now is highly conservative and just by launching this product we will challenge the status quo and stand out from the competition. Additional ideas that have been discussed are: - Headphone tech - Noise canceling tech - Possible to wear with a helmet - Color options - Spare parts program - A slimmer model for open office spaces

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

See Business Model Canvas.

How is your idea innovative?

It is a fresh addition to a conservative market. We also think that home builders are growing in numbers and crafting is becoming a widely adapted concept. The headphone marked has shifted from being a necessity you buy to listen to your music to something you buy to express you style and personality.

What inspired this idea?

Antons personal need for a sturdy pair of earmuffs that look and feel good.

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

Our team is Anton Ahlin and Emmy Lilliehorn from Stockholm, Sweden. Anton works as an Art Director and Emmy as a digital communication strategist. We are both very curious and have the great pleasure of working with what we love.

In what city are you located?

Stockholm

In what country are you located?

Sweden

What is your legal / organizational structure? (if applicable)

We do not have any partnerships or legal obligations at this point.

Please describe how becoming a Top Idea will support the growth of your concept.

We would be able to continue our R&D process, develop the product and prepare it for an online launch.

41 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Fabrizio Rossi
Team

Hi Anton,
An awesome idea, if it is performing, you are a genius! I'm waiting to buy them, good luck!

Photo of Funke adesanya
Team

I think this is a great idea!! I personally love blocking out noise once in a while which is great! Good luck with the comp!

Photo of Sophie Papworth
Team

Hi Anton & Emmy, love the idea and the UX Maps are very realistic and relatable. Just a few points I wanted to note on the idea.
1) In the blurb, you stipulate that the earmuffs will be 'noise-reducing'. I'm curious to what extent will noise be reduced (is the same as acoustic foam?) and how you plan on testing this? I'm aware you're only in the research and early testing phase however given the nature of the concept it would be a crucial selling point.
2) The Business Model looks like it reflects Nike's mission, however, the Values area states that currently, earmuffs are known as a 'throw away item'. Given the Project Brief for this challenge, changing this customer behaviour would be essential to ensure the product wasn't creating waste again. In this, fulfilling the unmet need or pain points of the personas documented in the UX Map would be crucial moving forward.
Love where this idea is going!

Photo of Tina NgPh
Team

Hi team. Congrats on being shortlisted in the challenge! Great presentation. I liked looking through your photos to see how you are experimenting and working with the grind materials. I also like how you have considered a variety of possible uses/users as shown in your ux maps.

I have a few questions about the project.
Are you testing the grind earmuffs for noise reduction and comparing this with earmuffs that construction workers currently use? Is there an industry standard for this type of product?

How will these earmuffs have a snugger fit than competitors? (I saw this listed in your value proposition.) Is there something about the materials or your process that will provide this?

And based on personal experience, even normal rubber materials used by some other makers can lead to skin allergy, not to mention this product is made from grind, how can your business properly manage this issue and make this product more reliable and user-friendly? One more thing is about the product prices. what is the specific price setting for different models?

Looking forward to seeing the project develop!

Photo of Chang Qu
Team

I have to say this idea is terrific! It fits to Nike's product lines and culture. But I just worry that as the material used is some grind ones, based on personal experience, even normal rubber materials used by some other makers can lead to skin allergy, how can your business properly manage this issue and make this product more reliable and user-friendly? One more thing is about the product prices. what is the specific price setting for different models?

Photo of Daniel  Danowski
Team

I really like the idea! But I still have two further questions. I'm exited, what would be a realistic price? If it's to expensive, you could think about expanding your partnerships with businesses, which are using these kind of products or similar ones. Are their any thoughts about it?

Photo of Anna Everson
Team

Very cool idea, I think!

Photo of Laura Cristina null
Team

Hi Anton,

I really love your idea to reinvent that product category and modernise it. I work in an open office and it can get really loud sometimes but headphones with music on are not always what I want, so I would really appreciate your new concept. Besides, they look cool and fancy to wear.

One question for you:
Are you planning to make one version of the product or different ones for the different targets? What are your plans regarding that?

This product could also be great for travellers (business, students, etc.) who want to be undisturbed but still able to concentrate on their tasks without headphones (music) on.

Good luck!

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Laura,

Thanks for you feedback! Yes we are planning to make a version specifically for open office environments with a snugger fit and a more comfortable earmuff.

Best/ Anton

Photo of Brian Liberman
Team

Great idea, love the need!
How might these earmuffs be recycled after their use?

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Brian,

Thanks for the kind words! Our idea is to create a modular product that have replacable parts that can be switched out when needed. This is because we want to stat away from creating a cheap throwaway replacable, but instead something you take care of and maintain.

/Anton

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi. I wonder if creating a mechanism where people can return the product to your company when they no longer want/need it and where it might then be refurbished and sold at a discount can be one way to recycle? One example might be earmuffs for a child who has grown out of them?

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

That's a great idea Bettina!

Photo of Monique Kennedy
Team

Another model worth exploring is providing rentals to larger companies to provide for their contractors. They can return them once they experience some level of wear and tear to get new ones. The older models can be recycled to make new products.

Photo of Bettina Fliegel
Team

Hi team. Congrats on being shortlisted in the challenge! Great presentation. I liked looking through your photos to see how you are experimenting and working with the grind materials. I also like how you have considered a variety of possible uses/users as shown in your ux maps.

I have a few questions about the project.
Are you testing the grind earmuffs for noise reduction and comparing this with earmuffs that construction workers currently use? Is there an industry standard for this type of product?

How will these earmuffs have a snugger fit than competitors? (I saw this listed in your value proposition.) Is there something about the materials or your process that will provide this?

Another possible market for headphones is museums. Most museums, at least in NYC where I have used museum taped audio, have provided the big earmuff type of headphones.

Looking forward to seeing the project develop!

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Bettina, thanks for the questions!

1. We have done some testing on the noise reducing capacity of the materials. The test are on a amateur level right now. Moving ahead we will make sure that the product meets all the standards needed to be a top of the line option.

2. This will be offered by giving customer the options to buy a range of "cups" larger ones will of course have better noise reducing capacities while snugger ones will be appropriate for a less noise environment like open office environments etc.

3. That's a fun idea. It would require us to move into headphone technology which is something we see us doing down the line.

Thanks!

Photo of Charles Zulanas
Team

You have a great idea and making an innovative use of the materials. OSHA standards (for the US) for construction requires wearing hard hats, which many use, but they can be uncomfortable with earmuffs. Have you considered a design that works with existing hard hats for the construction industry? Some headphones go around the back of the head and don't interfere with hard hats such as http://www.iheadbones.com/osha-workers/, and others have clip attachments such as the Peltor design at http://www.dileshearing.com/outdoors-hearing-protection.
You've done a great job at incorporating a lot of ideas in your user experience maps. Building off of Bettina Fliegel's idea for using these earmuffs at museums, if you will be incorporating headphones into your earmuffs, then online video games, call centers and transcription/translation services could be other target markets.
Great work on your idea!

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Thanks for you feedback Charles!

That's a great idea and we have been discussing what kind of "add-on" options that we can incorporate into the product. Maybe have them adjusted for wearing with a helmet is an option you pick on purchase or if we make it modular enough it could be an extra part that the user can attach themselves. To remove the standard headband and attach the headband fitted for helmets.

Photo of Monique Kennedy
Team

This is great insight Charles Zulanas 

Photo of Aaron
Team

Very interesting

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Thank you Aaron!

Photo of Margot Kempczynski
Team

I love the idea of a waste-free product. I wonder/hope that this will also be true for the packaging/shipping materials.

I'm looking forward to seeing this idea develop, as it's exciting to see some disruption in this sector of the headphone market. It seems this could be something that evolves over future iterations-- maybe the same core design and materials could be used in different styles of headphones.

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Thanks for your comments Margot!

Yes Margot that is the idea. By creating a modular product we even envision a packaging solution for bulk deliveries to e.g. construction sites where we ship the earmuffs in parts. This would enable us to have way less packaging than if we would send every pair of headphones in it's own packaging.

We are also looking forward to evolving the concept. I can even see that we build ad-ons to the product which makes it eaiser to combine our product with other products on the market e.g. helmets, earplugs etc.

Photo of Emily Moore
Team

I really appreciate your effort to break the mold of the "conservative" market of protective earbuds. Have you considered how this product would accompany a hard hat or other protective headgear used in and around construction sites? The versatility and flexibility of how this product can be used will elevate it to the next level. The more the earbuds are able to work with existing accessories, the less waste will be generated as well.

Photo of Brayan Pabón
Team

Hey Anton Ahlin ,
Great idea, I like the aesthetics of your proposal and the way you use the materials. It's a very different approach to use the materials and a very attractive market.
Check my submission @ARRECIFE
Grind office screen
 , I would like to know your opinion! (y)

Looking forward to seeing your idea in the next stage.

Photo of Aakar Mehra
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin ,
Great to see such a robust and useful idea! Of course as everyone has mentioned, there a huge potential for the practical application of this product. I like the way you have designed the earmuff to use multiple Grind Material.
Reading the details of the idea, a few questions arise in my mind.
1. Our goal as designers is to create a product that has a potential circular design. I am curious if you have considered what would happen to the product/materials after the first life? How do we design a system that will allow for the reuse of this product or the material that was used in making them?
2. Going off of my previous question, let's say there is a potential of using the product again after some amount of refurbishing, how do we get the users to actually refurbish the earmuffs on their own? Do they bring it to some place/ship it back to get it done?
3. It would be great to see some of these question answered by conducting some interviews with people who would potentially be using this product and gain some of their very important insight.

Looking forward to seeing this idea evolve.

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Aakar,

Thanks for your questions!
1. I agree, what we want to achieve is a product where the parts are highly interchangeable both from a circular perspective and also from a visual style perspective where modifying your earmuffs can make the into more of a individual object.
2. To accomplish the above I think we need to work resellers that can work as a contact point for our customers. Some kind of shipping system would of course also be in place. But we prefer a reseller based system rather than having products shipped all over the world for some refurbishing.
3. I have done some research where the responses have been positive. Apparently there are to ways to go about buying an earmuff. Either you go for a noise canceling solution that will cost you a lot or you go for a very simple solution that looks and works poorly. A simple premium product is a fresh addition to the market.

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin ,

Congratulations on being today's Featured Contribution!

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Thanks Lauren, that's awesome!

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin ,

A reminder that the ideas phase of this Challenge closes in less than one hour, at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Please have your submission updated by this deadline with content to all proposal questions complete.

Excited to have you in the Challenge!

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin ,

Great to see you in the Challenge, and with a really interesting product design. I’m excited to learn more about your idea, and specifically, more about how you might utilize the materials you've selected in your final product. Could you please provide a few paragraphs to the question "How specifically will these materials be incorporated into your solution?" Be as specific as possible about how the Nike Grind materials you've selected could be processed to create your final product. What would the steps be? It may be helpful to do some research on how current headphones are processed and see how these materials may be used/substituted in that process as a starting point. 

Additionally, I'm including the materials overview to reference as a resource https://d3gxp3iknbs7bs.cloudfront.net/attachments/e677177d-40ce-4d2b-8c59-e16c009f1c48.pdf

Tagging in a few community members also working with rubber. I encourage you to collaborate by providing feedback, insights, and/or comments on one another's concepts to accelerate the innovation process! Tanushri Shukla , Eric Guilbeau , Alexandra Ralevski , Matthew Esposito .

Looking forward to seeing the evolution of your concept!

Photo of Matthew Esposito
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin I really love this concept and the design is intriguing. I could see it also being a cost-effective "green" alternative for underserved people groups. (Fashion and Design often are not apart of their daily lives. Lets change that!). I saw Lauren Ito mentioned exploring how you would use the materials and especially Rubber. Lets connect!
I am eager to discover if high heat and pressure can "re-mold" the rubber into new shapes, which is my hope once I get some material to play with. For your design, I could see the rubber being ground into even finer particles and potentially 3D-Printed with some type of binder (maybe the same type of shoe-glue Nike already uses.

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Matthew Esposito ! Thanks for the positive feedback! I agree, it is a market that has room for change, and the time might be now :)

Yes, we too need to re-mold the rubber granulate. Have you done any testing of this with similar materials?

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Matthew Esposito great to see your feedback, and love that you two are connecting to share learnings!

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Hey Lauren Ito !

I made some tweaks to the concept and clarified how we would use the different materials.

/Anton

Photo of Lauren Ito
Team

Hi Anton Ahlin ,

I'm curious how a you can start to explore a business model to bring this concept to market. I'm including this business model canvas resource (https://www.circulardesignguide.com/post/circular-business-model-canvas) I encourage you to fill it out and upload the canvas to your post!

Additionally, here's an example product post from the Circular Design Challenge to serve as inspiration for how you might begin to prototype your concept, and the evolution of the text content of your post.

https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/circular-design/top-ideas/home-kitchen-bathroom-and-personal-care-cleaning-tabs-sets-and-replacements

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Sure! I'll give it a burn over the weekend.

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Business Model Canvas is added :)

Photo of Kyle Ellison
Team

Anton,
I love this idea! I like that you're using the recycled materials to re-create a product that has become a cheap throwaway item, in the big box store race to the bottom.
With a few quality parts, and a nice fit and finish, this has some serious potential!
Nice work!
--Kyle

Photo of Anton Ahlin
Team

Thanks Kyle!

Photo of Rémi bousquet
Team

Great idea ! Love it.
You can maybe go further by ensuring that your earmuffs would be 100% recycled.
Just need to design them in a way you can dismantle each product and send all back to a convenient recycle process. Your product would be circular which is a must.
Good luck for the contest.