Local company Unit 1 debuts Soundshield, new headphone helmet | VailDaily.com

Local company Unit 1 debuts Soundshield, new headphone helmet

A local company, Unit 1, launched Soundshield, a new helmet with detachable headphones.
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Soundshield is the first in what Unit 1 says will be a range of innovative products. To buy one or support the startup company, go to http://www.indiegogo.com.

VAIL — Juan Garcia Mansilla was a Vail ski instructor who wanted to listen to music. He tried rigging headphones into his helmet, instead of ear buds or audio kits that, well … are long on kit and short on audio.

That tinkering has paid off.

About a year and a half ago Mansilla and Javier Bertani, a skater and industrial designer, founded Unit 1. They started tinkering, combining their design expertise with snow riding.

Last month they released the Soundshield, an extreme sports helmet with integrated headphones and the ability to stream music via Bluetooth. No wires.

Soundshield just went live on Indiegogo.

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“Sports enthusiasts should be able to experience music safely as they shred, ride or roll,” Mansilla said. “Being able to offer people the perfect blend of design and functionality, with a product that fits both the everyday and the extreme, is something we’re hoping the Indiegogo community can really get behind.”

The headphones can be used independently from the helmet. You dock the headphones into the helmet when you need protection, and click them out when you just need sound.

Soundshield headphones come with a built-in microphone, and can play up to 16 hours of music.

You run it with a single button control and a volume dial on the headphones. You can operate it while wearing thick gloves or mittens.

“We wanted to give people the option of having their sports equipment integrated into their everyday life,” Bertani said. “Nobody wants to buy a product you only use for a few weeks of the year, so we’re looking forward to giving our backers something of value, that they can enjoy and experience year-round.”

Before they launched, Mansilla and Bertani had worked together in Bertani’s product design agency for three years.

As their Soundshield product developed, they brought in Francisco Abelleira as COO to negotiate with factories and handle the thousands of other details that go with building a company. Abelleira spent five years managing a product launch division at a major pharmaceutical company.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.

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