Why and how we developed Cat-Ears
As avid cyclists, we found that the more we rode, the more we were bothered by wind noise. We had a few close calls with trucks that we didn't hear approaching. This started us on a quest to improve both the quality and the safety of our rides.
We tried ear plugs. They block wind noise, and everything else. Listening to music with ear phones masks wind noise, but of course we couldn't hear overtaking vehicles. We tried a couple of air deflectors that attached to helmet straps. These worked to some extent, but were very sensitive to position, helmet strap tightness, and the shape of the cyclist's head. Some were rather difficult to affix and remove from the straps. Worse, these devices tended to interfere with high frequency sound transmission from directly ahead. In short, the aerodynamic properties of available deflectors didn't reliably reduce wind noise, and the acoustic properties interfered with hearing desired sounds.
We also tried expensive, noise cancelling ear buds. These work by reducing the level of ambient sound via ear plugs. The electronic circuitry further reduces noise, but only noise with a repeatable pattern - like an engine. Thus they are great for listening to music on an airplane. They are not designed to reduce wind noise while allowing you to hear ambient sounds. Beyond that, they are not likely to stay in the ear during vigorous movement; do not appear to be sweat proof; and are not water proof.
At this point we decided that if we were going to solve this problem, we were going to have to do it ourselves. Noting that cats have fine fur in and around their ears, we wondered if nature was pointing towards a solution. Further research suggested it was. For example, the owl is a successful predator by virtue of its nearly silent flight. Part of the silencing “equipment” is soft down on top of its wing feathers and on its legs. We also noted that sports broadcasters have been using furry socks that cover microphones used for interviews on windy fields. After many, many iterations of design and materials, we came up with an effective and safe way of reducing wind noise while cycling, and called it Cat-Ears.
In 2015 Cat-Ears was granted a full utility patent for our invention of a
Sound Permeable Wind Nosie Reduction Device (US Patent 9,078,482)