The results are in. After the first “Hear and Now” Noise Safety Challenge event last week, hosted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), OSHA and the Mine Safety Health Administration (MSHA), inventors were recognized for submissions that aim to provide solutions to reducing hearing loss from workplace exposures. The top ten finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of judges on October 27 in Washington, D.C.

This first-time event, open to the entrepreneur community, provided opportunities for 10 inventors, selected from 28 challenge submissions, to travel from all over the nation, and Canada, and present their solutions to better protect the 22 million workers exposed to hazardous noise every day.

"Co-hosting the first Noise Safety Challenge was an opportunity for NIOSH to work with new partners in a novel way,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “Entrepreneurs like these are an essential part of the occupational safety ecosystem as is engaging the inventor spirit to solve other occupational safety and health challenges.”

The judges awarded first place to Nick Laperle and Jeremie Voix for their eers™ product, a custom-fitted earpiece designed to provide a worker with protection, communication, and monitoring. Laperle noted the goal of his company was to make hearing loss “a thing of the past.”

Second place was awarded to Brendon Dever and his company Heads Up Display, Inc. The Heads Up product is wearable sensor technology. The sensor, which is affixed unobtrusively to glasses or protective equipment such as hardhats, detects noise levels and provides warnings and other communications via color coded lights.

Third place was awarded to Madeline Bennett on behalf of her company Otogear. Otogear’s product is an interchangeable decorative attachment that attaches to silicone earplugs. The attachments are manufactured with licensed designs for sports teams, businesses, or music festivals.

Civil servants from partnering federal government agencies worked with the entrepreneurial community to launch the ‘Hear and Now – Noise Safety Challenge’ on August 1st, 2016 with the dual goals of inspiring creative ideas and raising business awareness of the market for workplace safety innovation. The event featured investors, entrepreneurs, representatives of the NIOSH Research to Practice Program, representatives of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and academic professionals.

The other selected ideas included hearing protection devices, hardware/software combinations within the Internet of Things (IoT), audiometric measurement and tracking tools, and analysis systems:

Ted Smith – Corvex Connected Safety™
Manesha Kachroo and Bibex Das – iPING
John Johnson – Sert-A-Plug
Dr. Joe Shargorodsky and Dr. Wolfgang Haupt – Agilis Health, Inc.
Dr. James Craner – webOSCAR™
Rudy McEntire – EarJellies
Les Blomberg – TTS Detector

For more information and pictures, visit the DOL Hear and Now webpage at: For more on hearing loss prevention, visit the NIOSH topic page:

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. For more information about NIOSH visit