Plantronics Enters ProAV Market With Weirdest Product Ever — But It’s Profitable

Plantronics today announced Habitat Soundscaping, an “intelligent acoustic management service” that helps transform distracting, dysfunctional, open office spaces into peaceful environments where people can focus, collaborate and thrive (think sound Masking using water and nature sounds instead of pink or white noise). The service uses nature-inspired audio and visuals, coupled with intelligent software to mitigate distractions due to speech -– the most common complaint employees have about their open workspaces. Habitat Soundscaping brings these natural elements into the workplace to create an immersive experience where people want to come to work and leaves them feeling energized.

Plantronics wants to sell this through the ProAV integration market.

The Habitat Soundscaping service incorporates biophilic science (a fancy term we had to look up), the innate tendency of humans to seek connections with nature, as an essential element of the solution. Studies show that workplaces with a connection to nature help improve mood, working memory and cognitive functioning. In fact, these studies concluded that workplaces with architectural elements that connect to nature have been proven to reduce worker absenteeism by 10 percent – creating the opportunity for significant productivity gains and a much happier workforce.

AVI-SPL is one of the channel partners working with Plantronics to offer this new service. There are others and at least one distributor.

Habitat Soundscaping is a completely new type of service that combines nature-inspired audio, immersive visuals and adaptive software to enable focused individual work and group collaboration to peacefully occur in the same open workplace. The service includes hardware and software and is comprised of the following three key pillars:

  • Nature-inspired Audio – Intelligible speech is highly distracting for humans, who are hard-wired to pay attention to speech and fill in any missing pieces of conversation. Research has proven natural water sounds are the most effective means to reduce the impact of intelligible speech while also creating a comfortable, rejuvenating environment to work in. The Habitat Soundscaping service brings these natural water sounds to the open office creating a space that is highly functional and promotes overall wellbeing.
  • Natural Scenes – The Habitat Soundscaping service uses a combination of natural audio and real waterfalls, or virtual displays of serene landscapes, to help reinvigorate the office. The visuals complement the nature-inspired audio to create a harmonious, multisensory experience. Research has also shown that bringing visual connections to nature into the office can improve cognitive functioning and mood of the people in that space.
  • Intelligent Software – To reduce distraction, the service actively senses disruptive, intelligible speech and dynamically adjusts the natural sounds in the surrounding work zones in real time to help others stay focused without interrupting any collaboration. It even works at the subconscious level, acoustically incentivizing the right behavior, so that especially loud talkers are encouraged to keep their voices down. The system also automatically analyzes its performance to ensure it’s running optimally day-in and day- out.

The Habitat Soundscaping service is currently available in the U.S., the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and France.

Here’s more information. Here’s a video about Habitat SoundScaping:

Gary Kayye

About Gary Kayye

Gary Kayye, founder of rAVe Publications, is one of the most prominent personalities in the audiovisual industry. He has been a contributor to WIRED magazine and a technical advisor and columnist for Sound & Communications magazine as well as an opinionated columnist for rAVe [Publications] since 2003. In addition to his writing and market analysis, Gary has been a product, marketing and business operations consultant to dozens of AV companies in the U.S. and overseas. Clients have included companies such as Sony, Sharp, Epson, Lutron, InFocus, Sanyo, Mitsubishi, NEC and Philips.   Gary, who has been involved with the audiovisual market for over 20 years, was the recipient of the InfoComm 2003 Educator of the Year Award and the 2007 NSCA Instructor of the Year Award. Over the years, he has donated much of his time as an active volunteer in the AV industry’s trade association and served as chairman of InfoComm’s Professional Education & Training Committee (PETC), chairman of the ICIA Design School Committee and chairman of InfoComm’s Installation School Committee. In addition, he has served on the InfoComm board of governors. He also helped grow the InfoComm Projection Shoot-Out as the premiere AV industry trade show special event serving on the committee from 1991 through 1997, and was instrumental in launching the Shoot-Out in the European market at the Photokina Expo in 1994 and 1996 as well as the Asian market at the 1995 and 1997 INFOCOMM Asia shows.   Prior to founding his own company, Gary was vice president of sales and marketing for AMX Corporation (www.amx.com), a manufacturer specializing in professional AV and residential AV control systems. Prior to AMX, Gary spent nine years at Extron Electronics (www.extron.com), rising to the position of vice president of sales and marketing. Gary earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1987 from the University of North Carolina and is currently Adjunct Faculty at UNC in the School of Journalism teaching a class on how future technologies will affect the future of advertising, PR and marketing.   He is also the founder of Swim for Smiles, a non-profit that raises money for the N.C. Children’s Hospital through swimming and other fitness-related events for kids. You can contact him at gary@ravepubs.com..