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About AudiOdysseus

My name is AudiOdysseus and my journey with Velodyne began last year. Admittedly, I would never describe myself as a hero of any kind and I tend to get seasick in open water. But I would say that I’m a natural problem-solver and a strategist. And I love adventure. There is nothing I appreciate more than exploring new territories and gathering information about the world around me. Those are the types of things that keep my mind engaged and my soul elated. Those are also the types of posts you can expect from me. I’ll be writing mostly about new gadgets, emerging trends, and my work-related travels to other lands. By the way, watch out for the BenevolentSiren. Her words are sweet and captivating, but she can be a tricky if you lose your way.
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Packaging as Inspiration

Our limited edition experimental vPulse packaging, designed by Alfredo Muccino and inspired by the art of sculpture.

Well, I’ve finally returned from my unofficial sabbatical…and am thrilled to be blogging again. Although I took a break from writing, I can assure you I did not take a break from working.

As you already know, we recently debuted several new lines of headphones. In addition to the vPulse, the vFree and vTrue are now available for purchase by Velodyne fans everywhere.

It goes without saying that the process of developing a product for a crowded marketplace is multi-layered and complex. But the creative process for developing the packaging of a product can be just as complicated

Henrik Persson’s literal take on packaging for a limited edition book about NYC, modeling it after a city skyscraper.

And that’s where I’ve been the last few months…deeply embedded in the packaging process. As with all developmental and creative processes, we began with meetings to discuss what we wanted from our packaging besides the obvious, selling the product.

This prompted me to think a lot about how packaging impacted me as a consumer. Typically, I walk into a store with no expectations. I take a step back, scanning the shelves and waiting for something to jump out at me. It’s as if I’m saying, “I’m here now. Impress me with something.”

What is the “something” I want?

I want a package to make me feel something meaningful. I want to feel inspired. I want to feel happy. I want to laugh. I want to be amazed. I want that package to stand up and make me smile, to compel me to pick it up and hear the promises it makes to me about what I can find inside.

This limited edition Nike shoebox, designed to mirror a sports stadium, is embedded with sound chips, causing a crowd to cheer when it’s opened.

Ultimately, I want that package to make me feel that I can’t leave the store without taking it with me. And once I get it home and remove what’s inside, I often treat the packaging as a product itself .

In fact, I’ve been known to save beautiful packaging and boxes for weeks or months, claiming, “Just in case. I might need it again some day. Really, I might.” The truth is that I just can’t bring myself to throw away something so beautiful, something that inspires a connection to emotions.

Personally, these are some of the things that appeal to me when it comes to packaging:

  • Russian designer Arthur Schreiber designed this beautifully crafted and clever take on packaging that visually reflects the name and concept of the company itself. Incidentally, an American liquor company purchased rights to the conceptual design.

    Texture: I do love to see a package that makes me want to touch it. It can be the actual texture of the paper or material. It can also be a design that gives the illusion of being three dimensional, prompting me to want to touch it to confirm that it’s flat. Our limited edition sculpture-inspired headphone packaging is literally molded into headphones and begs to be touched. That’s the appeal.

  • Conceptual/literal: This is what I would call “clever” concepts. Arthur Schreiber’s design for Samurai vodka would fit into this category. It’s brilliant in that it presents a literal interpretation of the actual company name and, at the same time, embodies the entire concept of a samurai. I’ll not only remember the packaging after I walk away, but I’ll remember the name of the company and the concept behind the name. Henrik Persson’s packaging for a limited edition book about New York City is also a great example of this. This type of packaging might be my favorite. It doesn’t just make me feel something. It also makes me think.

Hiroko Sanders created illustrations for “Perfect Slice of Summer,” a series of boxes for Kleenex.

  • Shape: An unexpected shape in a world of square boxes is another type of packaging that appeals to me. Kleenex did a great job with their summer series called “Perfect Slice of Summer.” The thing I find most appealing is that it is also conceptually relevant, reflecting tones of summer and evoking an emotional reaction about the season. Brilliant.
  • Subtlety: Granted, I’m a minimalist at heart anyway. But sometimes the shelves are glutted with so many items screaming, “Look at me! Look at me!” that they all begin to look the same. And that’s when the one package that stands regal, demurely looking back at me without too much effort…that’s the one I can’t resist.

What kind of packaging speaks to you?

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An homage to the best city in the world: Velodyne rocks CE Week in NYC

The view from Avenue nightclub right before the Velodyne party

So, I’ve had a week to shake off the jet lag and catch up on some sleep. Of course, I couldn’t have been happier to attend the CEA LineShow in NYC during CE Week (June 25-29). Typically, shows can be overwhelming and a bit crazy. But this one was small and somewhat relaxed. The attendees are mostly press who live in the area and take the short trip down to Chelsea to the Metropolitan Pavillion. And Chelsea is also where Avenue nightclub is located…and where Velodyne hosted the “Real Music Pure Sound” party.

I was fortunate enough to not only attend the show and the party, but to visit friends and family in my old stomping grounds. Although, I’m a full on California transplant who no longer owns a pair of snow boots or gloves, New York will always be my true home. It made me feel quite nostalgic and I thought this would be a great opportunity to do a mini virtual tour of some of my favorite landmarks in the West Village, where I lived on 9th Street and 6th Avenue.

Former site of The Women's House of Detention

I’ll start with my favorite building in the city, known now as The Jefferson Market Branch, New York Public Library. It may just seem like a pretty brick building sitting on a triangular plot formed by Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street. But the history of this building is lengthy and rich. It actually served as the New York Women’s House of Detention, a woman’s prison, from 1932-1974. Longtime residents of the West Village will tell you that they used to hear husbands and boyfriends calling up to their wives and girlfriends in the middle of the night. That’s because its unique location gave inmates the opportunity to communicate with people walking by on the street. The New York Women’s House of Detention is believed to have been the world’s first art deco prison. It was designed by Sloan & Robertson in 1931.

This building and site is featured prominently in the 2004 film, House of D, which was David Duchovny’s feature film writing and directorial debut. Check it out.

The Empire State Building, lit up in red and white, as seen through the Washington Square Arch

The Jefferson Market Branch, New York Public Library is located just around the corner from my favorite park in NYC, Washington Square Park. The park itself is also rich in history and home to one of New York’s iconic structures, The Washington Square Arch. This 77 foot marble monument was modeled after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and was erected in 1889 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration.

The iconography of the Arch centers on images of war and peace. An inscription on the attic of the monument contains a quote attributed ot George Washington and reads:

“Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The event is in the hand of God.”

There are many other notable historic structures and memorabilia, including the Hangman’s Elm, which stands in the northwest corner of the park during the time that Potter’s Field was used for public executions.

Click here to find out more about the rich history of Washington Square Park.

The front of the Washington Square Park Hotel

It only seems fitting to end this mini tour by mentioning the historic hotel me and my colleagues called home during CE Week in NYC. The reason it’s so fitting is because the Washington Square Park Hotel is located on the northwest corner of the park at 103 Waverly Place. This hotel was built in 1902 and recently celebrated its 110th year in business. This quaint and unassuming gem evokes a 1930’s Paris in one of the best locations in New York. I highly recommend a stay here, as well as a tour of the art deco building and interior.

Incidentally, Babbo is right across the street. For those unfamiliar with this restaurant, it’s one of the most famous in the city. It’s considered to be the restaurant that put its owner, Mario Batali, on the map. And for those who don’t like Italian, there’s Cafe Asean right up the road. In my opinion, the best Vietnamese food in the West Village.

I won’t subject you to any more of my indulgent nostalgia. This is the end of my love letter to NYC and the West Village. I’ll see you next year at the end of June.

 

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Velodyne subs are the perfect canvas for up-and-coming Northern California artists

Multi-talented visual artist, FORCE 129, brings his vision to our sound

This week begins an exciting new chapter for Velodyne. We currently have some top-secret projects in the works that promise to deliver an innovative mix of audio technology and modern art. And I just got the go ahead to give you a preview of one of these projects.

Velodyne has been collaborating with art gallery Anno Domini to marry the world of audio with the world of art.

Located in San Jose, Anno Domini features exhibitions by renowned international and local artists, as well as up-and-comers in the art world. And we’ve been teaming up with hand-selected artists who are bringing their inspiration and passion to our audio products. These artists will be transferring their style and vision to our subwoofers by custom painting them, turning what has traditionally been a square box into a thing of beauty.

Artist Lacey Bryant explores the subtle tension between the beautiful and the unsettling

The first four of these experimental painted subs will be shown during the SubZERO Festival in San Jose, California. But this is the just the beginning. Get ready to see some incredible custom subs in the coming months, as we bring in artists from all over the world to create limited edition audio works of art. You’ll see a multitude of styles and techniques, from fine art to graffiti art to spray paint.

And we’re not stopping at subwoofers. But that’s one of the other special projects that needs to remain top secret…for the time being, at least

Check out some of the first hand-picked artists featured at the SubZERO Festival:

Lacey Bryant

“As is common in Lacey’s work, there is a subtle tension between beautiful and unsettling elements. Though the settings are usually very light and airy there is a certain heaviness in the atmosphere and a distinct melancholy about the girls with wild hair and confrontational stares. We are presented with things we are uncomfortable with-spiders, holes, crack and decay. This contrast is constructed to create a sense of mystery and mood, enticing the viewer to linger and embrace their own hidden dark sides or even to find the beauty in something that scares us.”

Poesia

“His recent work has transitioned from abstract graffiti towards a more evolved version of his past letter based work. Creating a hybrid style of work that is able to bridge the gallery with the street. Abstract in nature yet structured in letter based form. Poesia’s work explodes with color and form, creating a cryptic version of his wall work. Layers upon layers of paint, Poesia is able to build a deep dialogue between fine art and graffiti with his pieces.”

Force129

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A Truly Plug and Play Gadget for People Who Like to Skype or use VoIP

Naturally, we spend a considerable amount of time discussing the way sound is projected from audio products like our DD-18+. But this spring a cool little gadget with an impressive ability to capture sound will be available to those who like to use Skype

I first saw Blue Microphones’s Tiki device a few months ago at CES in Las Vegas. This nifty little USB gadget is the size of a memory stick and it plugs right into your computer. It also listens with the intelligence of human hearing.

“It pulls your voice to the forefront and minimizes everything else…computer fans, keyboard typing, and cartoons in the background,” said Hillary Money from Blue Mic.

It also has auto-muting, which puts you on mute after you stop talking for three second. And as soon as you start talking again, it takes you off mute.

These are great features for using any VoIP.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Voice over Internet Protocol, it has actually been around for quite awhile. But the internet hasn’t always been ready to handle it with the speed and bandwidth necessary for having a “natural” sounding conversation with someone. In recent years, however, there have been great improvements to speed and bandwidth that make VoIP an exciting opportunity for technology companies, as well as consumers.

How does it work? VoIP is simply a method for taking analog audio signals, like the kind you hear when talking on the phone, and turning them into digital data that can be transmitted over the Internet.

 

 

 

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Composing the sound signature of your car: Audi R8 e-tron e-sound

So, does a car really have a signature sound? Yes. I know this because my father worked for Mercedes-Benz for 30 years. As a result, I’ve been able to tell when a Mercedes is driving up behind me since middle school. The engine has a very distinctive sound that I could easily pick out of an audio lineup. I couldn’t describe in words exactly what it sounds like, but I can instantly distinguish it from the sound of any other car engine on the road with 100% accuracy.

The automobile industry, however, has undergone many changes since my middle school days. One of the biggest is the advent of the electric car. It seems inevitable that every carmaker will be moving in this direction. And with the electric car, comes the silent engine. Does this mean car engines will lose their signature sounds forever?

ELVIN (The Electric Vehicle with Interactive Noise) is the brainchild of Warwick Manufacturing Group, which has been working with British car makers fine-tuning the sounds of vehicles for years

Absolutely not. In fact, creating a signature car sound could become an art in and of itself. Just ask the makers of Audi. The car company is currently working towards the debut of its electric supercar, the R8 e-tron. And Audi is bringing the idea of a signature sound straight to the gas pedal…and directly out of two speakers mounted to the front of this much-anticipated car.

Audi has spent over three years working on the e-sound audio system for its silent supercar. They started out by testing an R8 e-tron prototype in an 1,100 square-foot sound lab.

“The problem is you don’t have any tool that you can buy on the market. You have to develop the hardware. You have to develop the software. And you have to find a great sound for the car and this took us more than three years.” said Dr. Ralf Kunkel, Head of Acoustics for AUDIO AG.

Check out some of the results:

http://youtu.be/1rrAUe1q9fo

For the die-hard car enthusiast, the Audi R8 e-tron has four electric motors that, together, produce 313 HP coupled with an impressive 3,319.03 lb-ft of torque. It can reportedly go from 0-62 mph in 4.8 seconds and has a lithium-ion battery with 42.4 kWh of capacity. That means the cautious driver would get about 154 miles of driving on one charge. But I’m guessing whomever is behind the wheel of this car is not a cautious driver.

And while the idea of creating signature sounds for your otherwise silent engine may seem like nothing more than a unique marketing and branding strategy, it was born of something entirely different.

A silent car is a safety hazard for many pedestrians, bicyclists, and others on the road. In fact, just last year the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010 was signed into law. It requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ensure that electric and hybrid car manufacturers add noises that alert pedestrians to their approach.

This practical technology certainly presents a unique opportunity for some awesome innovations. Hmmm…I see downloadable car-tones in our future.

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Join us in celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge

GG and the 64E

Velodyne's LiDAR sensor ready to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge

All of us here at Velodyne are lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Our offices are located in Silicon Valley, a short driving distance from San Francisco and, arguably, the most famous bridge in the world. Of course, I am referring to the Golden Gate Bridge. And it just so happens that this American icon turns 75-years-old this month.

I was unaware of this birthday when I recently got to play hooky and take Velodyne’s 64E LiDAR sensor up to the city by the bay for a photo shoot. And I fell in love with the beauty of San Francisco and the Golden Gate all over again.

Palace of Fine Arts

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco

Now, let me say that I am a New York girl at heart. That’s where I was born and raised and it will always be at the center of my soul. But I spent over five years living in San Francisco and, in that time, there was one thing that always amazed me. After five years of pounding the San Fran pavement, it was a regular occurrence to stop dead in my tracks, amazed at the beauty of the scenery. Every day I felt like I was living in a painting.

And that bridge in the background of the city is, in my opinion, just about as close as something man-made can get to rivaling the beauty of nature.

So, if you are lucky enough to live in or near San Francisco, be sure to join in the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Make sure you don’t miss the fireworks display. And if you aren’t local, I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve posted for you.

Here are some facts about the Golden Gate Bridge that you may not know:

  • In total, the bridge is 8,981 feet across and its tallest point is 746 feet.
  • It is famously “over-engineered and is four times stronger than it needs to be.
  • It took over four years to build and cost over $35 million.
  • Each of its twin towers weighs more than 44,000 tons and the total weight of the bridge is almost 900,000 tons.
  • It is the second largest suspension bridge in the U.S. and, if you untangled all of its cables, they would stretch around the world three times.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is painted a deep shade of International Orange, which is specially formulated to protect the bridge from the danger of rust from the moisture of the fog that rolls in from the Pacific Ocean.
  • There is more than 10 million square feet of steel to paint on the bridge and painting it is hard work. It takes a team of about 30 painters. The only thing that stops them from doing their job is rain. But the bridge is wrapped in fog 70 percent of the time and the winds can blow 60 mph-which can cause problems because workers usually use spray guns.

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Wireless headphones and the “silent disco”

Honestly, when I first came upon this, I thought it was a joke. The term “silent disco” is, in and of itself, a kind of paradox. But it turns out that silent discos are a serious matter for people all over the globe. In fact, the term was added to the Oxford Dictionary Online in February, 2011.

Hold on just a second. What is a silent disco, you ask?

It’s just like clubbing, but with one major difference. Everyone is listening to the music on a pair of wireless headphones. The music is broadcast through an FM transmitter. This would present an odd looking party scene to those sans headphones, appearing as if people were dancing to the sound of nothing. These silent gatherings often feature dueling dj’s competing for listeners, as well as live musical acts.

The concept of the silent disco was born in 2005, as the result of noise restrictions at the Glastonbury Festival in Pilton, Somerset, England. A Dutch company called 433fm coined the term “silent disco” and circumvented noise restrictions by turning the festival into a large-scale wireless headset event. This was their first large-scale event, although they had been developing a plan for hosting a number of the same type of smaller music events across Europe since 2002.

A silent disco stage at the Exit Festival, 2011 in Serbia

The silent disco caught on quickly in The Netherlands with appearances at festivals like De Parade, Lowlands, and Pinkpop. And these days, 433fm takes it on the road to venues like Amsterdam’s Club 8. Each year there’s also a silent disco stage at the Exit festival, an annual summer music festival held in Novi Sad, Serbia.

After sweeping across Europe, the silent disco show is now popular in places like Brazil, China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, and the United States.

The silent disco is not just for dj’s anymore. Each show is unique and can feature a variety of acts, including; live bands, comedians, rappers, actors, dancers, and video artists.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of the silent disco, be sure to check one out in your area. They seem to be popping up in major cities all across the United States.

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Jack White streaming his debut solo album “Blunderbuss” online via iTunes

Jack White’s “Blunderbuss” will be formally released in its entirety on April 23. But White is streaming it for fans right now on iTunes. If you like what you hear, you can pre-order it on the spot. ‘Blunderbuss’ features a total of 13 tracks and is being released on the singer’s own Third Man Records/XL Records. White produced the album himself.

The lead single, “Love Interruption” was released last month and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. White teams up with Ruby Amanfu, a singer from Nashville. The result is exactly what I would have hoped for it to be. Gritty. Beautiful. Quirky.

In classic Jack White style, Third Man Records premiered the track “Freedom at 21″ by launching 1,000 flexi-disc records attached to helium balloons. They were set free from the label’s headquarters in Nashville on April 1.

Not surprisingly, some of those flexi-discs reportedly landed right on ebay, where they were being sold for up to $3,000. Ahhh…capitalism.

Jack White is considered by many to be one of the most prolific artists to come along in decades. The Detroit native, the youngest of ten children, was one half of The White Stripes. Formed in 1997, the band erupted onto the music scene in 2001. They made music for over a decade until they officially ended their musical union in 2011.

The band was known for using the color combination of black, white and red in their live shows and artwork. When asked by Rolling Stone Magazine during a 2005 interview if those were always his favorite colors, White gave the following response:

Jack White discussing the making of "Blunderbuss" during a recent NPR interview

“After I apprenticed as an upholsterer for a few years, I opened my own shop, Third Man Upholstery. Everything was yellow, black and white. All my power tools were yellow and black. I had a yellow van. I ran my business like a cartoon. I was making out bills in crayon and writing poetry inside people’s furniture. I didn’t care if I made any money. I was so happy to pull up in front of someone’s house wearing a yellow-and-black uniform, with a yellow clipboard. But the White Stripes’ colors were always red, white and black. It came from peppermint candy. I also think they are the most powerful color combination of all time, from a Coca-Cola can to a Nazi banner. Those colors strike chords in people. In Japan, they are honorable colors. When you see a bride in a white gown, you immediately see innocence in that. Red is anger and passion. It is also sexual. And black is the absence of all that.”

Jack White is a master of expression through words and music. That’s why he’s one of my favorite musicians. That…and my favorite number is three.

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Join us in celebrating the third annual National Robotics Week 2012 (April 9-13)

It’s only natural for the Velodyne team to celebrate National Robotics Week. Our founder and CEO, David Hall, has been involved in the design and development of robot technology for over a decade.

If you’re a fan of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors, you’ve probably seen his work. The Robot Wars television series was a competition involving radio-controlled vehicles built by mechanics, engineers and inventors. Mr. Hall built Drillzilla, a competitor robot on the first season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors. Drillzilla, named after the famous Japanese monster Godzilla, was a shufflebot. That’s a special type of walkerbot using sections of feet in line with each other, rather than the legs used by traditional walkers. This gave Drillzilla extra speed and weight, as well as pushing power.

Watch Drillzilla wipe the smile right off Conquering Clown’s face…

But robot technology isn’t just for games. In fact, Mr. Hall’s other robot, Da Claw, is a retired robot fighter spending his golden years as part of a permanent collection housed at The Smithsonian National Museum of American History. In 2011, Velodyne was honored to donate Da Claw, as well as two LiDAR sensors and other LiDAR technology. (Click to learn more about Velodyne LiDAR technology.)

“Technological advancement has always been a strong theme running through American history,” said Brent D. Glass, director of the museum. “The donations…not only reflect the historical record of robotic development, but offer a glimpse of-and inspiration for-the future.”

Glass is not the only one to value the development of robot technology. In 2009, Congress established the second week of April as National Robotics Week in recognition of this growing sector of the U.S. economy. The yearly event is designed to celebrate the U.S. as a leader in robotics technology development and to educate the public about how robotics technology impacts society, now and in the future. It’s also designed to inspire students to pursue careers in robotics, technology, engineering, and math-related fields.

This weeklong celebration of robotics isn’t taking place in just one location. There are events going on all over the country. The National Robotics Week Advisory Council invites people everywhere to use their creativity in organizing local activities. The council recommends hosting an open house to demonstrate robots, organizing a Robot Block Party, or holding a robot competition. Anyone participating can submit their event to the Advisory Council for inclusion on their website.

If you’re fresh out of ideas this year, maybe you can find inspiration at the RoboGames in San Mateo, California at the end of this month. This event is referred to as the “Olympics of Robots”. There are 50 different events with participants from around the world. These “participants” include combat robots, firefighters, LEGO bots, walking humanoids, sumo bots, and androids that do kung fu. Some robots are even autonomous. And anyone can compete.

If you’re more of a pacifist, your inspiration may come from this year’s second annual Robot Film Festival, which takes place in New York City July 14-15, 2012. This event is a two-day celebration of robots on film. The official awards ceremony of the Robot Film Festival is called the “Botskers” and takes place at the end of the second day. It is a black tie red carpet ceremony with films duking it out for a coveted botsker award. The award is a 3D printed robot statuette.

It’s clear that robots are no longer just for techies and engineers. They’ve clearly moved into mainstream society.

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