In 2016, I began my product development journey. This was my first experiment building a product from the ground up, eventually filing a PPA and attempting to take it to market.
Bennett Huffman, Freelance Designer (Upwork)
Tools / Methods
Build a physical product to help people with insomnia fall asleep faster.
There are approximately 30-40 million people in the United States with insomnia, tinnitus, PTSD, or some condition that affects one's ability to sleep. Some people may spend hours before they finally fall asleep. One relatively common solution is audio such as white noise, or different audio content such as books or podcasts. Trending media content like ASMR has also become mainstream in recent years, much of which is focused on sleep. For a time, I also had trouble falling asleep.
A large component to this project was researching existing products and reviewing international patents on similar products. I identified about 20 relevant products and 15 patents on audio-based sleeping products.
Consequently, I determined a bluetooth, binaural memory-foam pillow with a rechargeable battery connected to a smartphone application would be best suitable to meet these user needs.
Musillow was created for these reasons—to help people fall asleep faster, without the hazards and pitfalls of existing solutions.
After defining user needs, I began making rough sketches of potential solutions and settled for a product resembling the sketches below after a few iterations.
To test the viability of this idea and pitch as a video, I created a prototype from scratch from a cheap memory foam pillow, an elongated bluetooth speaker, and third party mobile applications on my phone. I inserted a Bluetooth speaker into the back-middle of the pillow. I refined dimensions during prototyping to ensure the speaker would not be felt by the user and test equalization settings so audio was crisp and clear.
Prior experience building acoustic panels and an EQ app helped me with this testing.
I hired a CAD professional on Upwork to make the final renderings and animation shown below. I used these renderings to advertise the product to companies in cold calls and in emails.
I created this idea with the intent to license, filing a Provisional Patent in 2016. I obtained interest from a few companies before dropping the idea to focus on software development projects and internships.
This was my first attempt to explore product development and learn what it takes to bring products to market. It taught me how to analyze competition, strategic positioning, learning the commercial undertaking behind physical products, and understanding processes in a range of topics from product design to manufacturing.