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Draper Mom Invents SafSounds for Safe Listening

Nov 06, 2015 08:44AM ● Published by Bryan Scott

By Linnea Lundgren

Draper - Leave it to a mom armed with a Nerf rocket launcher to solve a plugged-in problem. 

It started when Tammy Erdel, 45, took to the road jogging. The Draper mom loved running in the fresh air and sunshine with her headphones on. The only problem — she couldn’t hear anything, especially the traffic.  

“I was uncomfortable,” she recalled. She removed her headphones but didn’t enjoy running without music. 

Figuring there must be a solution to the problem, she searched the internet but found nothing.  That’s where the Nerf rocket launcher came in.  

At the kitchen table, she took off her earphones’ tips, grabbed her 12-year-old son’s Nerf rocket launcher and used the foam fins to construct earpieces designed to let noise in without disrupting music. To test it, her son and 14-year-old daughter spoke to her while music blared in her ears. She could hear them. The simple and effective prototype worked. 

Yet, it took her months to build up the courage to call a patent attorney. “I had no clue where to start,” she said. “It was the beginning of a huge unknown.”  But after overcoming her fear, she called and things started rolling. She acquired patents, put the official design on paper and created a Kickstarter campaign raising $23,000. She named her product SafSounds. 

What cemented her drive to bring the product to market came in the form of a 2012 University of Maryland Medical Center study on injuries involving pedestrians wearing headphones. Accidents have tripled in six years, and of that total, 70 percent resulted in death.  

“It was alarming,” Erdel recalled. “It wasn’t about convenience anymore; it was something that was needed.” 

Erdel emphasized that SafSounds are intended to give wearers an alternative device for times when we need to be aware of our surroundings while driving, working or jogging. 

SafSounds come in several colors and four sizes, which will fit on any earpiece that has a removable tip. Within the next few months, Erdel will include earphones with ear tips so people won’t need to buy the items separately.

In August, the Home Shopping Network tapped her for their pilot “American Dreams” program as part of “The Monday Night Show with Adam Freeman,” which introduces the show’s 94 million viewers  to new products. 

“In my opinion, Tammy is the perfect example of the true American entrepreneurial spirit,” said Bob Circosta, the HSN host who helped create the program. “She has taken a problem and found a true solution.” He said he selected Erdel for the pilot due to her passion and drive to make the world a better place. 

With SafSounds’ sales off to a good start, the budding inventor has other ideas for products to make people’s lives safer and easier. Above all, she considers her role as a mom primary, so follow-through allowed her to walk the walk instead of merely talking about it.

“Whether it succeeds or fails, the most important thing is I taught my children to try things and not fear failure. In fact, failure is often a prerequisite to success.” 

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