From Sound Products to Face Shields – A Covid – 19 Story about Brown Innovations

Brown Innovations face shield in various sizes

A friend emailed a photo to me that showed her wearing a face shield and eating and ice cream cone.  The photo is very cute and shows that you can eat and remain protected in her Brown Innovations face shield.  Later, I also obtained a Brown Innovations shield. I was surprised at how comfortable it was.  And, I could breathe. 

How did these shields come into being? The story begins with Jeremy and Kevin Brown, two brothers who grew up in Skokie, Illinois and started a unique business 22 years ago. Brown Innovations invented a directional speaker. These speakers can create isolated zones of sound in public environments without disturbing areas nearby. – you don’t see the speaker and you can only hear the audio inside the “zone”.

Having attended the Austin McComb’s School of Business at the University of Texas, Jeremy could see the business potential and possible impact of sound containment technology. He envisioned sidewalk cafes, outdoor concerts, casinos, museum exhibits, and advertising displays that would send out audio to specific areas while those outside of the designated sound zone would hear nothing. The concept of walking into an open, public area and walking through invisible rooms of sound with no walls was unknown. This was groundbreaking technology. Jeremy began to market the concept of directional audio while his brother, Kevin, obtained his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and brought his technical and engineering skills to the company.

Adidas flag ship store in Times Square

One of their first clients installed music listening stations in music retail stores so customers could listen to albums before purchasing. The speakers allowed visitors to stand under a speaker and hear the music in full stereo without wearing headphones which are unsanitary, uncomfortable and isolating.  Jeremy and his team sold products to designers of museum exhibits, trade show builders, digital signage, kiosk and wayfinding manufacturers, architects, engineers, and audio/video integrators.

MoMA, NY Judson Theatre Exhibit

Kevin lives in the Boston area where he designs and manufactures new products and develops new technologies, while Jeremy remains in Chicago handling all business operations and overseeing the future vision of Brown Innovations. Interestingly, recent technologies include; Smartvolume, which allows the speaker to self-adjust based on ambient noise, T-coil systems built into speakers for those with cochlear implants, proximity sensors, and the only existing directional subwoofer capable of keeping bass frequencies contained. More about Brown Innovations.

What does a company which designs and manufactures directional audio solutions have to do with face shields? Take a manufacturing plant, a coronavirus slow down, and friends in the medical field when PPE gear was in short supply, and viola!- face shields. Volunteers stepped forward to help make the shields and Brown Innovations donated to hospitals. When the supply caught up, and there was no longer an urgent need for the shields, inquiries began coming in from across the U.S. as dentists, retailers, salon owners, restauranteurs, and others who needed to return to work were looking for protection and preferred shields to face masks.

Because the shields are comfortable, re-usable, allow for lip-reading, and provide for protection for the nose, mouth, and eyes mean they can be used in countless situations.  Shields have these advantages: they can be worn with glasses; the wearer can eat and drink while wearing the shield;  one is prevented from touching their face; the shield cannot be worn incorrectly; and it is easy to remove and put on with minimal contact. You can wear the shield with a mask for even more protection. It is easy to clean with alcohol-based products to reuse. Brown Innovations continues to expand the shield offerings, finding the best design for comfort, and functionality.

Somehow the word about these shields have spread so that orders have come in from: Chick-Fil-A, Latin School of Chicago, New Trier School District, Safco Dental Distributor, Temple University, Restaurant Supply Co., Omni Dental Supply, Fox Lake School District #124, Seton Hall, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, North Shore Senior Center, and schools in Oregon, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Florida.  School districts across the country realize face masks are difficult to wear all day as speech therapists, counselors, and others needing to see one’s face to make a connection with younger students prefer to use face shields..  Realizing the value of the shields,  many states across the country are using face shields in schools.

Kenny Munic

One can almost “hear” the face shields as the company expands and improves this product in order to accommodate the needs of the public. There are currently four different sizes – Child 00 for 1-4 yrs, Child 0 for 4-12 yrs, Adult Regular and Adult XL. The company welcomes suggestions and requests from the general public.

Clean the shield with an alcohol-based product and a soft cloth. Treat them as if they are a pair of sunglasses. Set on a desk with the plastic visor on the bottom. Gently pull the strap back as you put it on. They are reusable, not indestructible.

“Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that people wear goggles or face shields as an added measure of protection against contracting the coronavirus, according to a report.” See more

Masks are still required in some situations as this story reveals. “I wore a shield into a boutique in Chicago last week. The owner asked me to put on a mask.  I did as she suggested, put on the mask and took off the shield. She said, “I am sorry, but face masks are mandated by the city.”  I said, “Actually, that is not true. Face coverings are mandated by the city, the shields are a face covering which is being worn by teachers, and other boutique owners in the area. However, this is your store, and I respect your request so I will wear the mask.”   She also said, “The face shield protects you, the face mask protects me.”  I did not want to argue with her, but I wanted to mention that her eyes are still exposed while wearing the mask, and when the mask is pulled down below the nose and/or mouth it doesn’t protect anyone. Not to mention that the salespeople are constantly adjusting the face mask which means they are touching their faces. The salesperson then touches my credit card, and then my purchase.”

Personalizes monogram on a Brown Innovations face shield

For more information and to purchase face shields

Photos are courtesy of Brown Innovations unless otherwise noted.

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