Ear plug container

product design

Improving sleep in the future

Alpine is a hearing protection company, with a product base consisting mainly of ear plugs. They produce an ear plug specifically for sleeping, the SleepSoft, but were wondering what the future of sleep would look like and what kind of role they could play in it. Their main focus was on sleep in relation to the increasing urbanisation around the world.

In my reinterpretation of the case brief, I decided to look at what could be improved in the experience of their existing SleepSoft ear plug.

Illustrated timeline showing a typical day and especially interactions with ear plugs.
I created a timeline to illustrate what people’s behaviour was, linked to ear plugs for sleeping. This helped me to validate my assumptions with users and find weak spots in the interaction.

A redesigned glow-in-the-dark ear plug container

After interviews with users, I assembled a list of issues users currently have with their ear plugs for sleeping. Based on this, I redesigned the container for improved usage in the dark; by redoing the lay-out it becomes easier to take the ear plugs from the container without dropping them. Many users also reported problems with finding their ear plugs during the night, which I solved by adding glow-in-the-dark pigment to part of the container.

Photo of seven 3D printed models.
My 3D printed iterations.
SolidWorks stiffness analysis screenshot.
The stiffness analysis of one iteration of my design.
Rendering of the final design on a black background.
The final design.
Two packaging designs, one mostly white focussing on a free cleaner, one mostly dark blue focussing on the glow in the dark container.
The existing packaging (left) and imagined packacing (right) to validate whether the glow-in-the-dark container would work as a sales argument in a questionnaire.

Going through the design process from start to end

This was an individual project of ten weeks, so the strategic and user research (interviews and questionnaires), communication with the client, project management and product design (including 3D modelling and printing) were executed by me.

Poster showing the final design, the most important trend, problem and solution, plus some validation statistics.
My final presentation poster.


  1. The value of experts while designing is enormous, both in finding solutions to technical problems and in finding out there might be none (in an early stage of the project, I wanted to design a sound damping product outside the human ear—this turned out to be infeasible without covering all window or using expensive electronics).
  2. Integration through iteration—in earlier projects, I hadn’t managed to properly integrate every aspect of the product. During this project, I managed to improve the design in areas like producibility, usability and sustainability several times through iteration.
  3. If the product context is private, like sleeping, it is harder to do research and find participants. Later I learned methods like contextmapping might solve this partly, but I still haven’t found the perfect solution.


Oh, right. Yeah, yeah sure. So... talk to you later?

Yeah please do! :D