Peter Gibbons has been skiing since he was a youth, and in that time he’s never found a convenient way to listen to music while on the slopes.
So he took matters into his own hands — literally.
Gibbons invented the SlapSwitch music system for sports enthusiasts. The device features a helmet liner skull cap that hold earphones and a microphone, and an easy-to-reach switch that silences audio or transfers between music and incoming calls with simple slap.
The SlapSwitch is designed to work seamlessly with iPhones, though it also works with Android devices with an adapter. It retails for $69.99 through Gibbon’s online portal for the product, sportsmusicom.com.
Gibbons, a Carson City resident, worked as tool and die maker, an industrial electrician, an electrical engineer, and a lawyer before trying his hand at being an entrepreneurial inventor.
“I was always searching for a solution, and I knew this could be done,” he says. “I thought well, I can’t find it, so maybe other people are looking for this product.”
Gibbons began fleshing out his idea for an easy-to-use music system in early 2010. He hired a professional product designer and began to define the mechanical and electrical aspects of the product.
The SlapSwitch is made in China, but Gibbons would like to move manufacturing operations onshore in the future.
“I would love to have it totally U.S. made, but we couldn’t find anybody,” he says. “But as we grow we will keep our eyes open.”
Gibbons works with ITI Manufacturing of Texas to deliver the product from China. ITI handles all aspects of manufacturing the device, including sourcing, production, duty fees and import/export controls, and delivers a complete product to Gibbons.
“Without them it would be an absolute nightmare,” Gibbons says.
Currently the product is only sold online, but Gibbons plans to attend ski-industry trade shows and demo and market the product through word of mouth. He’s also looking for distributors or licensees who might incorporate the product into existing product lines. So far, Gibbons has put up initial seed money for the venture.
“I think it is a product people need, and once you see someone on the mountain enjoying their tunes they are going to want one,” he says.