Students and Alumnus Develop New Earplugs

Two current UCSD students, along with a UCSD alumnus, launched a Kickstarter campaign on Nov. 12 to raise $100,000 to begin manufacturing Hush earplugs. The Hush earplug is a “smart” earplug design, which allows its users to choose which sounds they want to block out and which sounds to allow in.

The founders of Hush designed the earplugs primarily for people who want to block out noise while they sleep while still being able to hear their alarm clock in the morning.

“The vision for Hush is to provide people a way to sleep in the context of the increasingly noisy world around them”, mechanical engineer and UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering alumnus Daniel “Ewok” Lee said.

Users can connect the earplugs wirelessly to their smartphones and use Hush’s app to filter which alarms and alerts they want to allow to wake them up. Users can also choose which noise-maskers they want to hear.

At first, when they built the prototype for the Hush earplugs, they ran into a design issue that made it uncomfortable for people to wear the earplugs while sleeping on their side. After many tests and iterations, they eventually developed a design for the earplug to avoid this problem.

“Testing and having real people sleep with it for entire nights was insightful to learn how to continuously improve our design,” Lee said.

Lee founded Hush with Daniel “Chesong” Lee, Hush’s software engineer, who is attending UCSD part-time, and Daniel Synn, Hush’s designer and a structural engineer —  who is taking a year off from school to dedicate his time to the company. The three cited the noisiness of their college environment as one of the reasons that prompted them to develop the idea for Hush.

“I couldn’t use earplugs because I always had this anxiety that I wouldn’t wake up to my alarm clock,” Lee said. “That’s when I thought, ‘Why not just put a speaker on the inside of the earplug so that I could still hear the things I needed?’ Plus, when it sounded, I wouldn’t have to disturb anyone else.”

In addition to the negative aspects of their college experience, the three founders explained that their positive experiences at UCSD were also contributing factors to their determination to build their own company.

“Hush actually started as a school project for an engineering entrepreneurship course, MAE 154, led by Dr. Delson,” Lee said. “Without this course, I wouldn’t have realized how awesome being an entrepreneur is.”

Moreover, the founders met and befriended each other at UCSD, which allowed them to develop the idea for Hush together.

“If I hadn’t come to UCSD, I wouldn’t have met my co-founders like I did and have been a part of this awesome company,” Synn said.

The three expressed that they are excited for the future of Hush and wish to continue growing the company for many years to come.

“We can’t wait until we see Hush in actual retail channels,” Lee said. “We hope to build out Hush into the long term.”