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Freshman creates first light-up earbuds on the market

Freshman+Kevin+O%27Finn+recently+launched+his+company%C2%A0Headphones%2B%2C+which+features+bluetooth+earbuds+that+are+made+to+help+avid+night+runners+avoid+being+hit+by+cars+due+to+low+visibility.
Freshman Kevin O'Finn recently launched his company Headphones+, which features bluetooth earbuds that are made to help avid night runners avoid being hit by cars due to low visibility.

Freshman Kevin O'Finn recently launched his company Headphones+, which features bluetooth earbuds that are made to help avid night runners avoid being hit by cars due to low visibility.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Freshman Kevin O'Finn recently launched his company Headphones+, which features bluetooth earbuds that are made to help avid night runners avoid being hit by cars due to low visibility.

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There are reflectors for bikes, and reflective jackets to make wearers more visible in the dark. But freshman Kevin O’Finn invented a gadget he thinks is more effective for runners to be seen at night — light-up earbuds.

O’Finn recently launched his company Headphones+, which features the new wearable product.  The bluetooth earbuds are made to help avid night runners avoid being hit by cars due to low visibility.

O’Finn, a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, said he came up with the idea while in an entrepreneurship class in high school. His school hosted a pitch contest where the winner would receive $10,000 to kick off their business idea. O’Finn and two friends won the contest and began to startup their business.

They made a company website on Weebly, where he got the chance to promote their vision. Chinese earbud manufacturing company Hoora contacted Headphones+ with interest in building their product.

“We’re really excited to work with (Hoora) right now,” O’Finn said. “So far, it’s just one step at a time. We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.”

Kristen Sale, a senior in the College of Business Administration and ambassador at the 707 Innovation Hub, has been counseling O’Finn on how to market his product to a wider audience.

She said her passion for music sparked her interest in the project. Sale has her own experience in startup companies – she created a clothing company called 1783 Clothing Co., but has since moved on to other commitments. Sale said that many people who create a startup can get lost in the thinking, not doing, of company innovation.

“I always say just jump, just go, just start,” Sale said. “You’ll figure it out as you go. You’re never, ever going to be prepared to know every single way that this could possibly turn out.”

Colette Kelly, a sophomore in the College of Health Sciences, said she thinks the light-up earbuds are a good idea. She said that the earbuds would help to let cars know you’re there, even if you don’t see them.

“When you’re running, you’re in the zone,” Kelly said. “You’re not really paying attention to your surroundings. You’re just paying attention going forward.”

O’Finn said he plans on generating further funding for his company by creating a Kickstarter campaign in the future. He said it will help him to expand the company further than he could do on his own, as well as increase interest in the product by offering pledges where donations will result in freebies.

The earbuds are set to launch in spring 2018 and will be sold online by the Headphones+ website. They will come in three colors – yellow, red and blue – not only to offer visibility but also self-expression, O’Finn said. The earbuds have a projected cost of $179 per unit and will be Bluetooth-compatible with both Apple and Android devices. They have a battery life of 6 hours and are waterproof, according to the website.

“Everyone was like, ‘this might not be real,’ but now, here we are,” O’Finn said. “We put our mind to it, and now we’re able to finally do it.”

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About the Writer
Grace Connatser, Executive News Producer

Grace is the Executive News Producer for MUTV. She is a junior from Knoxville, TN, studying journalism and digital media. She was previously a News Reporter...

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