Edit: If you back us and pre-order a Yuni headphone as your reward, we'll contact you to get your preference for one-sided vs. standard design at the end of our campaign, rather than immediately as the current reward tiers say. We appreciate you!
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Thanks to all of you for helping us meet our initial goal in less than 24 hours!! We're not done yet, though...we are aiming to meet some stretch goals to ensure that we can bring the Yuni to market. Please spread the word far and wide!
Next Stretch Goal: If we can reach $5,000 we will work on making the Yuni compatible with various hearing aids. We've heard from our supporters that traditional headphones often aren't angled correctly to work with hearing aids, and we want the Yuni to be a solution to many of these problems...but we'll only have the resources to pay for the extra design if we can raise the additional funds. Thank you again!
Do you listen to music, watch movies or TV, or play video games through headphones? Then you'll know how cool it is to experience headphone stereo sound...to hear different instruments in each ear, to hear music moving trippily from one side to the other, to notice an offscreen character's voice is coming from a single ear!
...unless you're one of the almost 9% of Americans who has deafness or hearing loss in one ear. In that case, every time you listen to sound with headphones, you're only hearing 50% of it! Most modern recordings don't put the sound evenly in both channels, so you have to miss out on the awesome, incomparable experience that is stereo headphone listening.
That is, until now. Our team is proud to present the Yuni -- the first headphone offering true stereo sound for individuals with unilateral deafness or hearing impairment!
Since most headphone manufacturers ignore the needs of unilaterally deaf listeners, the options have been limited. Either miss half the music, or find a way to collapse the two stereo channels into a single channel and listen with one ear. But the interference between the two channels coming from the same speaker will boost some frequencies and cut others, resulting in a messy, cramped sound.
The Yuni gets around this problem with a revolutionary new stereo technology (patent pending) that places both stereo channels in a single earpiece, but with two separate speakers instead of just one -- one above, and one below the ear opening. This design takes advantage of our ear's natural shape, which functions to help us localize where sound is coming from. With the Yuni, you can hear and distinguish the two channels, identifying which sound is coming from which speakers. Even better, the music will sound truly spacious, not squished, and you can finally hear true stereo panning as the sound moves from one channel to the other!
If you're a unilaterally deaf music-lover who has never experienced these effects through headphones before, it may be difficult to appreciate how much your music will open up and come alive when it's played the way it was meant to be enjoyed...in stereo.
The Yuni looks like a standard headphone from the outside, and thus covers both ears. This avoids the problem of people in public trying to speak into your free (but impaired) ear, assuming that you'll be able to hear them; this is a major problem reported by unilaterally deaf users of existing single-sided headphone solutions (such as uni-earbuds or DJ headphones). Finally, the Yuni is reversible...a single model can accommodate you no matter what your needs. Just flip it so the speaker side is over your good ear!
Bottom line: if you have unilateral hearing loss and listen to music, you NEED to own a Yuni!
What If I Don't Have Unilateral Hearing Loss?
While the Yuni was developed with the unmet needs of unilaterally deaf listeners in mind, we believe there are tons of uses, even for people with normal hearing. Anybody who wants to listen to true stereo sound with one ear while keeping the other ear free can benefit from the Yuni! Imagine you're at work and want to listen to music, but you need to be able to hear your surroundings and coworkers. Or, let's say you're laying down tracks in a recording studio, and want to hear the recorded tracks (in stereo!) in one ear while listening to yourself with the other. In short, whether you have one-sided hearing loss or not, you can get a lot of use out of the Yuni!
What We Want and What We Need
We want to bring the Yuni to market, mass-produced and widely distributed. We can either do this ourselves or hope an existing company will get onboard, but either way, we'll need your help to make it happen!
We're designing and building a high-quality prototype, and we could use some help funding it! We'll present it to companies who may be interested in making the Yuni a reality. And if our drive is REALLY successful, we'd love to go into business ourselves and work on bring the Yuni straight to you!
But one thing at a time. Please consider backing us (every dollar helps!) and sharing this page with as many people as you think would be interested! Thank you!
A note on backer rewards: We've currently capped the quantities of available rewards to assure that we can meet demand...but if our campaign is going well, we will be able to fulfill more. So if you'd like to donate but all rewards have been claimed, contact us, and we'll very likely be expanding our capacity!
Our team members are currently in the process of hand-making the Yunis locally with their 3D printing setup in their shop, [carrythewhat?] replications; the electronics are ordered from an audio parts wholesaler. All backer rewards will be made in this way, hand-assembled as necessary, and personally shipped to you. The Yuni is currently fully functional, although we are still tweaking and optimizing particulars of the design to create the most comfortable, best sounding ‘phones we can! The final product will differ only slightly if at all from the current prototype; mainly the changes will be aesthetic, and we are currently looking into using a standard internal, rather than external, junction for the cord, if we can implement it without greatly increasing the bulk.
If our campaign meets its goal, we will use the prototype to find a company to manufacture and market the headphones. If we exceed our goal by a fantastically large margin, we have a factory in mind which can tool and mass produce the Yuni with the extra money. If this happens, we will work on designing packaging and a marketing and distribution strategy to bring the Yuni to the masses!
Development of the Yuni: A Picture History
The idea for the Yuni began with the realization that some of our friends with unilateral deafness, who love music and listen through headphones, had never heard the music that the same way we had. A psychology course which mentioned the ear's natural, functional shape spurred the idea to try developing a headphone where the stereo image was created by spacing the speakers around the ear. The first Yuni was cobbled together from simple household items (see above), but the concept worked well enough to encourage further development!
The next proof-of-concept needed to be a real headphone, so our engineer Mishah gutted a pair of generic headphones and glued some cheap buds into one earpiece. We finally had a real, if homemade, Yuni!
Now we're getting somewhere! The Yuni began to take shape, as Chris created a completely unique design from the ground up, fabricated it with a 3D printer, and put it all together!
And there we have it...the latest, sleek, beautiful Yuni. Designed by Chris and Cyndi at their shop, [carrythewhat?] replications, it features the revolutionary unilateral stereo technology (patent pending), a durable but lightweight frame, and tons of style!
See for Yourself
If you don't believe us that having two stereo tracks makes a lot of difference, try putting on headphones and listening to the studio version of "Purple Haze" by Jimi Hendrix, or the stereo remixes of the early mono-recorded Beatles albums, in which the vocal tracks are pushed almost entirely into the left ear with the instruments on the right. "Alone Again Or" by Love has the drums entirely in one ear. "Long Distance Runaround" by Yes, with two separate guitar tracks full in each channel, is a perfect example of how stereo listening can be crucial for enjoying the entire song. The album Led Zeppelin II is one of many rock albums that just isn't the same without stereo headphones.
Risks and challenges
We know we have an exceptional and unique product which can change people's musical lives, so our goal is to get it to market by any means possible. Many possible challenges can arise in this process which may be completely uncorrelated with how beneficial a product is to humanity (and on the other side, some people get lucky and are able to sell millions of Pet Rocks).
However, 3D printing technologies make it easier than ever before to rapidly develop a prototype. No matter what, we will be able to make a prototype...in fact, we are nearing completion now. If the project is not funded, it will still be completed, but out of our own pockets, making it a lot more difficult to invest resources towards marketing it.
If we raise enough money to bring the Yuni to market ourselves, then the world of unilaterally deaf music listeners will be all the better for it. If not, then we will still continue to shop the prototype around to audio technology companies until we get a bite. No matter what, we vow to make the Yuni available to those who need it.
Our goal is to have the rewards, including the Yunis themselves, in your hands by September 2013. We don't anticipate any problems with our Yunis, but if you do have one, we will provide a 6 month replacement warranty, starting from the day you get the Yuni. This warranty will cover defects in function, materials, or workmanship -- we'll provide you with a new Yuni at no cost to you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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