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Collaboration in western New York brings innovative product

SensGard LLC. makes hearing protection, but not the kind that you might be used to. Instead of large, wooly earmuffs they are producing small, foldable hearing protectors that look like ear plugs on the end of a headband. Greg Post, CEO of SensGard says there hasn’t been much change in the field of hearing protection, until now.

“Earmuffs and ear plugs are basically designed to try to block sound from getting into your ear. Our technology isn’t designed to block sound, it’s designed to channel sound away from the ear,” Post says.

“The real advantage is being able to hear in a noisy environment, so you’re not blocking out sounds you need to hear. You are just able to hear things at a safe level.”

SensGard is one of three recipients of a Cornell Center for Material Research (CCMR) JumpStart award, and Post says they are excited to improve their product further.

The Cornell center will work with the company to create a testing method allowing them to determine the best kind of foam to use on the ear pieces. The aim is to make the protectors more comfortable and compatible with the shape of the ear.

The partnership with Cornell is one of many SensGard has around the region. SensGard CEO Post says since the business was started in 2005, they have worked with institutions in Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and now Cornell based in Ithaca.

“It’s what’s unique about our business and it’s really the objectives that we have, to work with Western New York companies.," said Post. "We’re truly a Western New York company. Everything we do is based in Western New York, our product is made in Western New York, and we like the fact that we’re able to utilize all the tremendous resources around here.”

SensGard makes use not only of the physical resources in the region, but also the intellectual ones.

The original design for this product came from Syracuse University and, as Post explains, it can now be considered the sunglasses of the earmuff world.

“You wear sunglasses to protect your eyes, but you would never wear sunglasses that totally blocked out, so you couldn’t see clearly what you normally see. That’s really what this technology is for hearing protection.”

Post says the long term goal for SensGard is to get their product into businesses and communities throughout the region and be able to give back to the region that's supported them.

For more from the Innovation Trailand Kate O'Connell, visit their website, innovationtrail.org.

The Innovation Trail is a collaboration between six upstate New York public media outlets. The initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), helps the public gain a better understanding of the connection between technological breakthroughs and the revitalization of the upstate New York economy.

WXXI/Finger Lakes Reporter for the Innovation Trail