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Tag Archives: vFree

Velodyne’s Highlights from CES 2013

Our LiDAR car leaving headquarters for Las Vegas, NV

CES 2013 was big for Velodyne, Inc. The show started on Tuesday, January 8, but our journey started much earlier.  A lot of preparation was required as our newly built autonomous car equipped with our LiDAR technology hit the highway to debut at the trade show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

LiDAR readout “On the Road to CES”

Two people from Velodyne -  Pamela Gauci from our audio division and Rick Yoder from our LiDAR division – traveled over 3,000 miles from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas with time to spare to prepare for Unveiled, a huge CES press event. Unveiled, which took place on Sunday, January 6, was an exciting night for us. We had several press inquiries, gave video interviews, and hosted a packed table several people deep all night. We had a blast sharing information about our vTrue studio headphones, vFree wireless headphones as well as our vPulse in-ear headphones. It was also quite fun fielding the “What’s that?” questions about our LiDAR unit sitting on our table.

David Short from Velodyne interacting with members of the press

Once CES actually started, it was “go time” for us in our suite at The Venetian as we were met with a constant flow of traffic.  The audio floor we were on was the perfect place to showcase not only our headphone line but many of our subwoofers which are Velodyne’s legacy. The greatest part about it was being able to engage with many of our customers who came from all over the world to attend CES. Relationships were developed, built and strengthened over the course of the week.

Our suite on the audio floor

Laurel Nissen from Velodyne e-commerce talking headphones with the German press

Our listening station at CES offered some quality time with the vTrue and vFree

One of the new relationships we developed was quite unexpected. Kelly LeBrock, best known for her roles in movies from the 1980’s, “Weird Science” and “Woman in Red” made several appearances at CES, and some would also say she made her comeback. She was tied in closely to many of the events that Velodyne was a part of through Living in Digital Times, and we spent a few days getting to know her. She posed for photos and gave autographs wearing our vFree headphones at our LiDAR car in the Sands Ballroom at the Venetian. She also emceed Fashionware, a wearable tech fashion show which also included our vFree and new interchangeable headphone skins. She stopped by our suite and visited with us as well as joined a few of us for dinner one night. She is a truly charming, intelligent, down to earth and beautiful woman and we hope to work with her again soon!

The press and fans went crazy for Kelly LeBrock!

Our vFree with piano skin on a mannequin

Model wearing our vTrue

Model wearing our vFree around her neck with interchangeable pink skin

Marta Hall, President of Velodyne, was chosen to be a panelist for Women in CE, to discuss what it’s like being a woman in an industry comprised mainly of men. It was interesting to hear the panelists discuss the necessity for marketing to women and share their ideas about how this should be done.

Marta Hall joined the Mommy Tech panel moderated by Women in CE founder, Carol Campbell

Our LiDAR car got its fair share of attention. Autonomous vehicles and “smart” cars in general seemed to be a popular theme this year and Velodyne was not the only company with a self-driving car at the show. However, there is no doubt that Velodyne LiDAR is a true pioneer of the technology and our engineer had a steady stream of interested show attendees who were full of questions. It was great to have two of our company’s divisions represented at CES 2013. It’s truly an honor to work for a company whose CEO and Founder, David Hall, is an brilliant inventor.

An autonomous car on the show floor intrigued many a passerby!

Despite the fact that most of our team contracted the “Flu of CES 2013” we all came back to work super-charged and enthusiastic about our product and our company. That is probably the brightest highlight of the trade show this year. Until next year!

 

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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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Finding Sanity In Music

Lately, I’ve been staying up late into the night, typing up various papers, reading entire novels, frantically studying for that next midterm. The only thing that’s kept me sane throughout this quarter has been my music. And coffee. But really it’s been the music. At first I was just listening to the same old songs, the ones on the radio, the new pop songs. But after a while, I felt like I was lacking something crucial. These songs weren’t enough to keep me going night after night.

I needed to find new motivation. I searched my iTunes library, hoping for something to pop out at me. I tried Afro Celt, a unique mixture of African beats and Celtic instruments, but it couldn’t keep me up for more than an hour. Then I thought that maybe I needed to hear some of the old classics, the ones of my childhood. Which turn out to be the same songs my parents enjoyed in their youth. Soon, all that was emerging from my vFree was good old Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Queen, the Moody Blues, Rush, the Who, Boston, Kansas, the Beatles, and other classic rock. It brought back pleasant memories, and revived this wonderful fondness in me for these bands. They got me through many a late night.

But there came a time when I began yearning for something new, but not any radio pop. I wanted something new to me, but still with that classic rock feel. I guess what really helped me then was Pandora, bringing me variety, with some songs that I knew, and some that I had never heard before.

I also took a stab at watching The Voice, to see if any of the contestants had what I was looking for. One caught my attention right away. Singing the Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” Terry McDermott of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, stole the competition, at least for me. I’ve been following his work, and each song has been beautiful, especially his rendition of Paul McCartney’s “Maybe I’m Amazed.” I began to wonder if McDermott had any original songs to offer, and I began to search for some. It turns out he had been in multiple bands—the two most prominent being Driveblind and Lotus Crush. Driveblind was formed in Scotland, and came over to the U.S. in the early 2000s. It caught my fancy right away, and I’ve been listening to it ever since. It helped me get through my last midterm, just last Friday. Specifically, the song “Autumn Red” got me through the midterm. I did receive some pretty strange looks in the library, with my vPulse in, rocking out to my new favorite band, but I didn’t care. It helped me keep my sanity throughout this first quarter of college. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Here’s a listen to the song that brought Driveblind to America, “The Fool Rides Again.”

http://soundcloud.com/terryvox/the-fool-rides-again

Also, for a look at what he’s done on “The Voice,” here’s “Maybe I’m Amazed” (skip to 1:22 for Terry’s performance):

http://youtu.be/EAkDasYZr88

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Backstage With: Ashanti Floyd

Within the last year, Velodyne Acoustics, Inc.  has reinvented itself after nearly 30 years in the audio business where the company has been recognized for creating and manufacturing some of the best subwoofers in the world. Just diving into the headphone business early this year, after investing decades of audio expertise honed by CEO and Founder David Hall, it is evident that the new products show a different side of the company. The headphone designs are modern, artistic and unlike any other headphones on the market. Designed and crafted by Marta Hall, a recognized public artist, these headphones are an extension of her passion for the arts and music. Coupled with David’s technology, the headphones not only look beautiful, but the sound is unrivaled.  Recently Velodyne  has forged a special relationship with Ashanti Floyd, a.k.a, The Mad Violinist. During a stunning performance at a Velodyne party in New York last June after the CEA Line Shows, President Marta Hall realized there was something special about this musician. After spending some time getting to know Ashanti it became readily apparent that his values and passion for music were very in line with the values and objectives of the company. It is quite fitting that Velodyne has chosen Ashanti, a 5-time Grammy nominated artist,  to be an ambassador for Velodyne headphones. Velodyne will be releasing two new models this month, the vFree wireless on ear headphone and the vTrue studio headphone.

How did you get your start in music?  Were you classically trained or self-taught? I started playing the violin when I was three years old after strong encouragement from my mother, she is an incredible musician.  She had been playing for many years and is a true inspiration to me.  She was very adamant that I learn and focus on classical during my development, I even traveled to Europe to perform in Classical music competitions.  I also had a strong focus on gospel music when I was younger, playing alongside my father in our local Tallahassee church.  I have played in advanced string placement with both The Turtle Island and Pacifica String Quartet’s. I was very fortunate to study under the renowned composer and conductor, Michael Kamen at Luzerne in New York.

Originally, I planned on auditioning on viola at Juilliard School for Performing Arts, but chose to focus on attending Berklee College of Music as a contemporary violinist.  I began to change my focus musically while at Berklee when I noticed a shift in the appreciation towards “real” music.  I do like a lot of musical genres, but I realize how important it is that our youth understands and appreciates music that involves real instruments.  I became passionate about discovering my own craft on a deeper level when I really found the similarities in different genres including Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Jazz and Alternative Music.  I really became inspired to do something very different when I began touring with Lupe Fiasco.

Tell me about your band. In 2009, after leaving Yelawolf, myself and guitarist Matt Barrett formed The Symphony Crack Orchestra to create a different, innovative style of music. Together, we have co-produced and performed on albums that in the last two years received a combined eight Grammy nominations.  You will hear us on Lupe Fiasco’s “The Show Goes On,” which received three nominations.  Other Grammy nominations were received for Nicki Minaj’s “I’m the Best,” and Fantasia Barinno’s album Back To Me.

In 2011, Symphony Crack released our first album, The Addiction, and soon became an album we knew would be the platform to where we are today. The names, Symphony Crack and Addiction, are indicative of the influences and love for music that brought all of us together.  As a group, we bring a lot of passion into the creation and performance of our music, we want our fans to have a unique musical experience unlike anything they have ever witnessed.

What is your background in working with music and youth? What spurred your interest in working with children and music in education? I have always known how important it is to teach youth music, whether it’s an instrument, sheet music, theory, or even composition.  My mother has always taught strings and I was able to witness all the good she did through that.  Also, all of my siblings play an instrument and are very talented.  Our schools need to put a stronger focus on musical programs, that is one of the reasons why I’m so supportive of Velodyne as they have recently become so involved in VH1’s Save the Music Foundation.  To this day, I still go back to Florida to help teach at my mom’s String School.

What advice would you have for the youth of today that is interested in music or even your younger self? The best advice I can give people who are learning to do anything musically is to NEVER give up.  I struggled with this when I was younger when people used to make fun of me playing the violin.  I love what I do and it is part of who I am.  If it’s something you love, your soul and passion will pour into your learnings and eventually show you your own greatness.  Just don’t. give. up. period.

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Hearing ‘That Voice Again’ – Peter Gabriel’s Back To Front

A few months ago, I wrote an article about Peter Gabriel’s Back to Front tour and the 25th anniversary of his groundbreaking album So. On October 6, Gabriel performed at the Hollywood Bowl, where I sat in section L2, completely dumbstruck. At 62 years of age, he’s still got it. Not quite like he had it when he was in his 20s, 30s, and even 40s, but rather in a more subdued manner. Maybe he wasn’t rolling around the stage in a hamster ball, or prancing about the stage as a flower, but he was skipping, running around, and even dancing, which is a real feat considering he kept his voice unwavering throughout the performance.

Gabriel performed the concert in three stages. The first, he said, was to be as if they were rehearsing, and experimenting with new sounds. True to his word, the lights throughout the arena remained on, and he sat before the piano. A hush spread throughout the packed arena. Gabriel began to play, singing a beautiful little song, that is, as of now, still unfinished. As he finished, the crowd was getting excited for what he had in store for them. In this rehearsal stage, he (and of course the magnificent Tony Levin, Manu Katché, David Rhodes, David Sancious, Jennie Abrahamson, and Linnea Olsson) played “Come Talk To Me,” “Shock the Monkey,” and “Family Snapshot.” They were not played like the studio versions. Rather, he jazzed them up, making them into completely new acoustic versions of these songs.

Stage two was to be the second course, before the dessert, namely So in its entirety. At this point, the crowd was on its feet, so ready to sing our hearts out. Peter Gabriel performed powerful electronic versions of several of Gabriel’s classic songs, starting with “Digging in the Dirt,” “Secret World,” and “The Family and the Fishing Net,” and finishing with “No Self Control,” “Solsbury Hill,” and “Washing of the Water.” At this point, the concert became a show, with spectacular lights moving about the stage like great living creatures, amazing cinematography displayed on massive screens spaced throughout the arena, and Gabriel and the band executing some synchronized dance moves. For “Solsbury Hill,” Gabriel began skipping about the stage, involving the audience in his obvious joy, and eventually leading the rest of the band around the stage in a happy, skipping procession. The second stage concluded with an extremely powerful and beautiful rendition of “Washing of the Water,” one that literally brought tears to my eyes.

And for stage three, Peter softly announced that dessert had finally arrived. A thrum of anticipation swept throughout the crowd as we waited, breathless, for him to begin. Everything began to glow red, marking the beginning of the opening track from So, “Red Rain.” For “Sledgehammer,” the audience leapt to its feet once again, singing uproariously. At the conclusion, Abrahamson joined Gabriel in the forefront as they began to sing “Don’t Give Up.” The crowd grew silent, everyone holding their breath in anticipation. The haunting lyrics resonated throughout the Bowl, sounding inspirational at the same time.

Next thing I knew, I was hearing “That Voice Again.” The people all around me became friends, comrades, and we all sang in unison, remembering the first time we heard that voice. Then we watched Peter sink to his knees, slowly falling backwards until he lay flat on his back, staring up into the lights. The first notes of “Mercy Street” rose up from the stage, evoking images of water, rowing a boat, and family. I looked over at my father, tears welling up in his eyes as he sang along to the lyrics, “…in your daddy’s arms…” His obvious joy at all the memories the song brought back made me so thankful to Peter Gabriel for giving such a gift. Truly, only Peter could sing an entire song lying on the ground and make it a work of pure art. From there, the tone changed dramatically as he transitioned into the satirical “Big Time.” The audience laughed and sang, chanting the last 17 ‘big’s enthusiastically. Then came the dark “We Do What We’re Told,” referring to the Milgrim 37 social experiment. The lights turned red, and Peter sang with such regret and anger as to invoke the same feelings in us. He transitioned into the strange and whimsical “This Is The Picture (Excellent Birds),” and finally to the iconic “In Your Eyes.”

Before he began, however, a surprise was waiting in the wings. A man, dressed in black, wearing a baseball cap, ran out onto the stage and handed Peter a large bulky object. Peter announced gleefully, “Mr. John Cusack!” whereupon the man gave a bow and the crowd erupted in tumultuous cheering as Peter raised the boombox above his head, grinning wildly at the reaction. After the song concluded, the members left the stage one by one. We all kept cheering, eager for the encore. It came, as promised, beginning with “The Tower That Ate People.” And, for the final song, Peter sang his eulogy to Steven Biko. As each band member left the stage, we sat, enraptured, chanting the last echoes of that haunting song as Manu Katché kept the beat going. We left in a daze, without that feeling of bereavement we’re usually left with after an amazing concert. It was the perfect ending to a perfect night.

There’s nothing better than going to see your favorite artist in concert. It might be better even than listening to their studio versions with your vFree, which is saying something!

Here’s John Cusack handing Peter Gabriel the boombox:

And here’s a look at some of Peter’s elaborate costumes from his Genesis days:

Finally, here he is in one of his complex creations—a human hamster ball:

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