Recent Shark Tank contestant, Vibes, the maker of Vibes Hi-Fidelity Earplugs (reusable earplugs that allow you to protect your hearing while still hearing clearly), has teamed up with Hear the World Foundation to give the gift of hearing to children in need. Every Vibes earplugs purchase includes a direct contribution to Hear the World Foundation, helping empower individuals with hearing loss to fully experience their world and live independent, fulfilling lives. Vibes is currently funding a Hear the World Foundation project in Lima, Peru that will screen 30,000 children for hearing impairment, and will provide those in need with free medical care and hearing aids. Some of the children screened and treated have been able to hear for the first time in their lives!
Below is a Q&A with Vibes’ founder, Jack Mann
What is the story about why you started VIBES? When was the ah ha moment.
I’ve been an avid concertgoer pretty much my whole life. Back in 2014, I was front-row at a concert and the speakers were so loud that I ended up rupturing my ear drum. I recovered, but doctors told me that if I wanted to avoid further damage to my ears, I’d need to wear earplugs whenever I went to concerts. Like most people would, I grabbed a pair of foam earplugs for the next concert I went to, but found that they totally ruined the sound quality, and prevented me from being able to hear the music I paid to hear. It was at that point that I realized that there needed to be a product that allowed people to protect their hearing health at concerts without compromising their ability to hear clearly.
Talk a little bit about the design and innovation behind how these earplugs work and how they help.
When designing Vibes, I wanted to create an earplug that was everything the archaic foam ear plug is NOT: Comfortable, durable, reusable, cleanable, discreet and designed for sound quality. With this in mind, we worked with audiologists and product designers to test and create various designs, until we landed on one that met all of our requirements. In short, Vibes lower the volume of the sound around you while still retaining the clarity. It’s like having a volume knob on your world. The unique design of the tube inside the earplug mimics the shape of your inner ear canal so sound is filtered instead of blocked, and doesn’t leave you without muffled sound or the feeling of being underwater. Additionally, since foam earplugs are one-size-fits-all and can often put pressure on your ears and be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time, we made sure to include three sizes which each pair of Vibes, so users could be sure to stay comfortable even while wearing the earplugs for hours at a time.
How many live music goers are at risk of hearing damage due to lack of ear protection?
Although Vibes were originally designed for concerts, they are really useful for any loud environment where you still want to hear or communicate clearly. Vibes are also used at sporting events, nightclubs/bars, loud group fitness classes, movie theaters, loud work environments, while riding motorcycles, and more.
Talk a little bit about the social impact that VIBES is committed to through the Hear The World Foundation?
After sustaining a ruptured eardrum, and researching the impacts on individuals with noise-induced hearing loss, we started to learn more about the profound negative impacts of those suffering from hearing impairments. We wanted to do more than just preserve people’s hearing, but also wanted to empower people to give the gift of hearing to those less fortunate.
In parts of the world with little or no access to hearing healthcare, hearing loss often goes undiagnosed and untreated, which leads to social isolation, difficulties in academics, finding work, and leading an independent life for those with hearing loss.
We partnered with Swiss hearing health charity Hear the World Foundation, as their goals aligned perfectly with ours: to improve the quality of life for individuals affected by hearing loss in areas where access to hearing healthcare is limited by providing them with medical care and services that meet their needs.
Each Vibes purchase includes a direct contribution to Hear the World Foundation, which funds projects like the one currently underway in Lima, Peru, which is providing hearing health screenings for 30,000 children, as well as medical care and hearing aids for those who need them.
What is your overall vision for VIBES from both a brand standpoint and a social impact standpoint?
Humans have created a loud modern wold that wasn’t designed for our fragile ears. On a regular basis, and for some people every day, we are exposed to sound levels that our ears are not designed to handle, which results in hearing damage that may not be noticed until it’s too late. As awareness the issue of noise-induced hearing loss increases, we hope to see a real shift in consumer behavior that makes hi-fidelity hearing protection a no-brainer.
Our goal is to see hi-fidelity hearing protection be adopted by the general population just as sunscreen, seat belts, and helmets have been adopted over the past few decades. Our hope is that Vibes will be a real solution to this world health issue, which impacts hundreds of millions of people. As our brand grows, we will be able to increase our commitment to providing funding for hearing healthcare to those in need through our partnership with Hear the World Foundation, and we see ourselves being involved in even larger-scale projects that provide both preventative care and solutions to those already suffering from hearing loss that will allow them to lead more independent, fulfilling lives.
Grant is the founder of Causeartist, one of the most influential impact business platforms in the world. Since 2013, Causeartist has been read in over 150 countries. Grant has personally interviewed 700+ impact entrepreneurs from around the world, highlighting innovations in ethical fashion, climate change, ethical technology, impact investing, and sustainable travel.