Outlook Magazine - Fall 2022


Crawford, originally from Shawano, Wis., start ed working for JLab in 2012 when it had four employees. Now owned by a Japanese compa ny, it has 90 employees. JLab products are in Target and Walmart, and sales are expanding into foreign markets. The product line also is expanding into computer accessories. Crawford has won several design awards at the international Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As director of design for JLab, he takes pride in designing affordable, reliable products. At UW-Stout, where he gravitated to because “I always wanted to invent something,” he spent long hours in the industrial design lab; the head phones and earbud concepts he designed back then helped him land the JLab job. “They saw that this was something I had a passion for,” he said.

ometimes, success sneaks up on a person. It happened to industrial de

sign alum Reed Crawford ‘06 when he creat ed earbuds to clip onto the bows of eyeglasses. They were named one of Time magazine’s best inventions of 2021. Crawford has designed 80 to 100 audio prod ucts in the past decade for JLab of San Diego. He was pleased with his JBuds Frames prod uct but not expecting any recognition, until the company was notified about a week before Time’s top 100 list went national. “It’s been quite a ride, for sure,” Crawford said. “It was very cool to see.” The 2006 UW-Stout graduate acknowledges his “new and different” design makes life easi er for customers working from home who wear glasses but don’t want earbuds in all day. “It was a true eureka moment,” he said. JBuds Frames are a $49 versatile headphones option, unlike a bigger-name competitor’s buds that were built into the frames at four times or more the cost. “They direct sound into your ear without masking your surroundings or annoying your neighbors,” Time said. Crawford calls them a “true wireless” product in that each bud connects to a Bluetooth mod ule on the user’s phone, unlike some that are linked by a wire and connect to one module. The company sells more true wireless earbuds for under $100 than anyone, he said, thanks in part to JBuds, the sales of which got a boost from the Time story.

Left: Reed Crawford has designed dozens of products for JLab of San Diego, including wireless earbuds that fit on glasses – one of Time magazine’s 100 best inventions of 2021. / JLab photos

Right: A model shows how Crawford’s inven tion, JBuds Frames, fit onto a pair of glasses.


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