We showed off video footage of the weird "wall of ears" in Plantronics' California lab earlier this year, but the whole place is infused with an impressive kind of sci-fi vibe (and the resulting gear is very impressive). I took a tour through the facility earlier this year; here's some of the highlights.
I'm no audio expert, so even after having it explained to me I can't tell you what most of this stuff is used for (beyond very, very thorough testing to ensure audio can be heard properly in all kinds of weird scenarios). I can tell you that it costs a lot and that the whole vibe is very reminiscent of what mad scientist labs used to look like in 1960s films. Which is no bad thing.
The "wall of patents" greets visitors on arrival. I guess we can deduce that there won't be a lot of Creative Commons love around here then.
That acoustic testing mannequin might look like a prop from Are You Being Served?, but it costs more than $US20,000. No wonder they couldn't afford a nicer colour for the foam.
"Can we have our own wind tunnel?" "Sure, why not?"
Let's face it, your home acoustic dampening will never be this impressive. Alternatively, it's a torture chamber for the Muppets.
Triangles! We must have more triangles!
One of the strange things about the labs is that you encounter models of heads everywhere. None of them qualify as having a healthy skin colour.
Cycle testing ensures that your headset doesn't come apart with normal use.
The design HQ for Plantronics. Because they're designers, they're not forced to work in cubicles.
If you work in headset design as an intern, this will be your life: sorting millions of plastic chips representing allegedly different shades of black.