Hush Team, Author at Hush

Help for Tinnitus and Misophonia

We’ve been getting a massive amount of feedback from all over the world, but one concern in particular has been brought up much more than we had anticipated, tinnitus. For those who aren’t familiar with tinnitus, it’s a constant ringing or buzzing in the ears sometimes paired with hearing loss, over-exposure to noise, aging and head injuries. According to recent surveys, approximately 1 in 7 people suffer from ringing in the ears.  There are no effective medications that cure tinnitus, but there are several treatments known to help manage the symptoms, one common treatment being the use of white noise. What is white noise? White noise is a broadband sound that is sometimes used for a “masking” effect. This is especially helpful when one is trying to sleep as it can mask the constant ringing of tinnitus that, in the silence of the night, can drive one insane – not to mention keep one from sleeping. There are a couple of ways to use white noise in bed, such as sound machines that you place on your bedside stand, in-ear noise generators prescribed by audiologists, or even simple wired headphones. However, they are all either bulky and indiscrete, absurdly overpriced, or simply inconvenient to sleep with. No longer limited to these options, people suffering from tinnitus have been particularly passionate about Hush’s ability to give them a convenient alternative. Misophonia is another auditory condition that has come up often. Misophonia is a condition where one has a “hatred for sound” – certain ordinary sounds, such as somebody chewing, can cause extreme levels of annoyance, or even rage. The suffering,...

Crafting a Quality User Experience

We’ve been working tirelessly to create the perfect user experience and we’ve gotta say, designing an in-ear sleep device comfortable enough for side sleepers is not a task for the faint of heart! We had initially completed almost all of the engineering for what we thought was our final product – unfortunately, when we gave out prototypes to a larger group of side sleepers for them to sleep on top of, we found that it simply wasn’t comfortable enough. Since then, we’ve undergone a complete design reset to tackle this comfort issue. As we started back from the ground up, we thought it might be interesting to share the steps to how we’ve gotten to the design that we have now! Our first step was to look at what was already the “best” on the market. We went and ordered pretty much every highly rated earplug/foam tip we could get our hands on; the above image doesn’t come close to capturing all of the different earplugs we examined – these were just the ones sitting conveniently in our office desk drawer today. Carefully observing characteristics such as softness, compressibility, rebound time, rebound pressure, retention, thermoelasticity, and noise reduction, we’ve filtered through all the earplug marketing jargon to find the optimal material that provides the best all-night comfort. We’ve even locked down our supplier who has mastered the process for making this material for years! The other key component to the comfort is the plastic housing that holds all of the electronics. Once again, to begin tackling this, we took a look at all the most popular earbuds on the...

How Hush Works

Noise disturbs our sleep – we all understand that. Well, almost all of us. Some people are blessed with the ability to transform into a rock the moment their head touches a pillow but those are a lucky few. For the rest of us, what can we do when it’s too loud to sleep? Besides just grinding our teeth in frustration, the two most common solutions are white noise generators and earplugs. White noise generators are speakers you place next to your bed that play sounds to mask other noises. They are used mainly to block out quieter background noises like traffic from a nearby street. Check out the highly scientific MS Paint graph below to see it in action The brown line labeled “Noise Threshold” represents the background noise that our mind gets used to and tunes out; these sounds don’t disturb our sleep. Sounds that are louder than this noise threshold are what disturb us from sleeping as depicted by the peaks labeled “Cars honking outside.” Lighter sleepers have lower noise thresholds and are woken up more easily as a result. The reason why white noise/fans help us fall asleep is that they artificially bring up our noise threshold by playing a constant background noise. Our mind tunes out this noise in a few minutes leaving us with a higher noise threshold that is now no longer breached by the same “Cars honking outside”. There’s a limit to how high you can bring your noise threshold up with noise masking though. Noise masking that is too loud carries the risk of long-term hearing damage and the louder...

Wearables make little sense

The wearable device market has been exploding; it’s been doubling year after year. Throughout this explosive growth, sleep wearables have been a particularly prominent player. But why? The question that I could never get away from is what value do these wearables offer to the user? All they do is track sleep data ONLY to tell you that you had poor sleep quality and they stop there. That was always the disconnect for me; none of them solve the problem, they just tell you that you have one. A new sleep tracking device that just raised $2.4M on Kickstarter last month exemplifies this; Sense is a bedside sensor-loaded ball that tracks all sorts of bedroom environment data – it even records audio at night for you to listen to in the morning to see if there were any sounds that ended up disturbing your sleep. While this can be eye-opening by showing us how many times we are jostled awake by nighttime noises without even realizing it, Sense, and all wearables for that matter, don’t end up doing anything about it in the end. There’s a HUGE opportunity for a wearable device that goes beyond just telling you that you’re not sleeping well to actually helping you sleep better. This opportunity only gets bigger through the proliferation of these sleep trackers as people become increasingly aware of their disrupted sleep. We at Hush believe that we are radically innovative in our philosophy by focusing on solving the problem. While it totally shouldn’t be, our design thinking is profoundly different in that we start with one strong pain point, trying...

Noisy Nights

Loud people stink. Loud people who continue to be loud when you’re trying to sleep really stink. Somehow, that was always the case through college – I’d be kept up for hours by loud neighbors and roommates who were running on college time, a phenomena that seems to prevent anyone from sleeping before 1AM. Unfortunately for me, I was the rare exception who had morning work hours and being the light sleeper that I am, it was… quite the predicament. My knee-jerk reaction was to just use earplugs. I mean, they seemed to block out noise pretty well from when I used them while studying? But then I wondered if I would be able to hear my alarm clock in the morning. That anxiety of possibly missing my alarm and being late for work just about sealed the deal for me; I was stuck just trying to sleep through the noise. From that simple paranoia, Hush was born. Why not just stick a speaker inside of an earplug so that I could enjoy an earplug’s noise reduction but still hear the notifications that I need? That way, I’d also solve the problem of my early alarms waking up my roommates, since only I would hear them. It struck me as so simple but so useful! I went out and recruited some of my most gifted engineering friends to start building the idea but I eventually began to wonder if anyone else other than suffering college students would be interested in what we were doing. What we found through our research completely shocked us. According to reports, the police receive...