Minneapolis-based company helping concertgoers and people with autism
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A Minneapolis-based company that makes earbuds to enhance concerts while protecting hearing has unintentionally transformed into a company that also helps people with autism.
Vibes is both the name of the company and its main product. Their earbuds funnel music and loud noises instead of blocking them.
Creator, Jackson Mann of Minneapolis, gave 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS an example of how it works:
“When you turn the volume down in the car, it doesn’t change the frequency, it doesn’t distort it, it just drops the volume,” Mann said. “So that’s what vibes do — any environment you’re in, it’s just going to lower the sound but still allow you to hear clearly.”
Mann was inspired after damaging his ear at a concert. In 2017, Vibes had so much steam it was featured on ABC’s "Shark Tank."
After that episode aired, Dan Zinkiewicz, whose son Noah has autism, decided to buy a pair. It wasn’t for him to enjoy concerts, but his hope was for Noah to wear them and help with his advanced noise sensitivity.
“We watch 'Shark Tank' all the time and we happened to have the episode on,” Zinkiewicz said.
Zinkiewicz and his wife had tried many different ear muffs and plugs over the years. Noah did not like any of them, and it was hard for the family to enjoy something as simple as going out to eat. But during a play Noah was having a hard time sitting through, Zinkiewicz gave him the Vibes to see if they could make it to curtain call.
“I mean, it was like immediately,” Zinkiewicz said. “It was like night and day. Suddenly he went from agitated to the point where I thought we needed to leave [to where] he was actually sitting there for the rest of the show with no issues.”
The product has changed their lives forever. It’s also changed Vibes’s mission.
“We thought that we were just helping concertgoers,” Mann added. “As much as that’s still a mission of ours, it feels different to know we’re having an impact on people who are just living their everyday lives.”