From a garage to a massive global enterprise, the company known as Plantronics has most definitely established itself as a leader in unified communications solutions for consumers and businesses around the world.
The humble beginnings of this now global company are astonishing. It began with two airline pilots working in collaboration to overcome a major problem in their industry. The problem was simple - the integrated headsets being used by pilots and crews in commercial jets were far too bulky and awkward to function. This left pilots resorting to old-fashioned microphones while also flying jets.
The rapid growth of the airline industry during this period, the 1960s, meant that someone had to find a safer form of communication. This led to Courtney Graham and Keith Larkin working together to create something lighter, smaller, and much more functional. When United Airlines put out an official call for designs, this inspired the two to commit to the process.
Because Larkin was already working with other companies that had incorporated transistors into eyewear, the design process was streamlined for the partners. They created a lightweight headset that met all FAA and United Airlines standards, and introduced the world to the MS-50. This was the first "communications headset" in the industry.
Only a few years later, in the mid-1960s, the partners had incorporated and become Plantronics. At that time, the FAA (Federal Aviation Agency) chose them to be the exclusive designers and suppliers of all headsets for air traffic controllers as well as commercial flights. This contract brought Plantronics even more business and soon telephone operators for national phone companies were using their equipment too.
The firm kept right on growing through the 1960s and 70s, with NASA hiring the firm to create solutions for Mercury astronauts and flight command teams. The relationship was such a success that the famous phrase "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" was spoken into a Plantronics device.
Many more successes followed, and today the Plantronics design team is responsible for some of the first mobile headsets, personal speakerphones, and noise-canceling tech, as well. Their gear appears in space, in emergency call centers, commercial flights, and more.
The company that started in a garage in Santa Cruz, California now has facilities in more than twenty countries. They appear in the Netherlands and the UK, in China and Mexico and employ more than three thousand people around the world.
Their current line of products illustrates their commitment to creating a diversity of solutions for unified communications in the average consumer's life as well as in the wide world of professional needs. Their lineup includes:
Lifestyle solutions - this enormous range of products touches on music and entertainment solutions, gaming devices, mobile communications products, and internet calls (also known as VoIP).
Workplace solutions - here too there are many products that are helpful to mobile workers, virtual workers, office personnel, and contact center employees.
Apps and Software - they also create the apps and enterprise software necessary to facilitate unified communication at all levels.
A summary or overview of the items that they design and manufacture would include Bluetooth headsets, speakerphones, wireless headsets, telephones, wired headsets, audio processors, and a long list of accessories that include adapters, cases, cables, and much more.
The Plantronics design philosophy has emphasized the human anatomy in order to ensure the best results. In fact, it is what informed the company's mission from its first days. However, the modern outlook on design also takes fashion into consideration, too. After all, personal communications in the modern era includes mobile phones and hands-free devices that are worn in public as well as at home or in the office. This is why Plantronics products are designed with optimal functionality but also with "fashion standards" as part of the goal.
Doing this has garnered the company commercial success but also recognition from the industry, as well. With design and innovation awards under their collective belt, and with the implementation of some of the newest tech and trends in the marketplace, Plantronics remains a cutting edge firm even though it has actually been working and creating since long before the dawn of this new, wireless, hands free, and fashion conscious era.
Plantronics. Company. Plantronics.com. 2014. http://www.plantronics.com/us/company/design/