Seki surf ear plug

SEKI surf ear plug

“Surfer’s ear” is a bony growth inside the ear canal. New bone growth occurs along the part of the ear canal leading to the eardrum. As the exostosis develops, it can cause hearing loss.


In a nation of water sports lovers, exostosis, otherwise known as surfer’s ear, is a common ailment. With our help, Chris Ryan the founder of Seki, developed the SEKI earplug, a product designed to keep both him, and the next generation of surfers, out on the water doing what they love.

Our iterative design process involved creating silicone castings using 3D printed moulds and testing fit and compliance of the plug to the ear canal. By implementing a consumer-led design process such as this, the product evolved quickly. Our in-house rapid prototyping techniques enabled many different plug geometries and acoustic transfer methods to be tested quickly. Each new batch was delivered on Friday, ready for real-world testing on the beaches around Auckland.  The fast paced feedback steered our design, helping achieve the most comfortable fit, and the best possible hearing whilst out in the waves.

With Globex’s help Chris was able to turn his ideas into a reality. SEKI earplugs are now shipping out to surfers across the world. Each day this product protects more and more surfers from the risk of exostosis.


Project details

Size: 489 hours
Time frame: Three months
Markets: USA, Europe, Japan, Australia, New Zealand

Main challenges

    Short design timeframe before manufacture
    Achieving a comfortable fit for all users in one design
    Allowing sound in and keeping water out
    Retention in the ear in an extreme environment

    Processes used/run

    Working prototypes/mock-ups
    Short run manufacturing
    CAD design
    Product design
    Design validation
    Project management

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