Uncloaking OnBeep: Behind the Scenes with Ellen Juhlin

Orion Product Manager Ellen Juhlin
Orion Product Manager Ellen Juhlin

Meet Ellen Juhlin, a product developer (and employee #5!) at Orion. She’s a sound and product pro who, in her spare time, puts together interactive puzzle hunts around San Francisco. We sat down with her to talk about her favorite things and what she loves about being part of the Orion team.

HOW DID FIND YOUR WAY TO ONBEEP?

For most of my professional life, I’ve been doing sound design and that led into product development at Meyer Sound. Along the way, I’ve been able to do some theater and interactive games, puzzles and performance projects. It’s been an interesting trajectory from starting in theater to moving into products for theater, to products for professional audio, then making the jump over to consumer products but remaining within the live events space.

WHY DID YOU WANT TO JOIN THE ONBEEP TEAM?

I was really excited after my first conversation with Jesse, Roger, Greg and Chayna. It seemed like they had a great sense of where they were going. I was excited about working in the hardware space with audio while also being able to grow in product design and management. I was able to jump in right away with that, so I saw a lot of potential for not only personal growth but knew there was potential for the product to be a game changer.

I’m interested in what OnBeep is doing because it’s something different from what’s happening right now in wearables. It seemed like a different kind of productivity tool that allows people to focus on whatever they’re working on instead of messing around with their phone screen and getting distracted. It’s something that you don’t have to think about as much when you’re trying to focus on whatever it is that you really want to do or the event that you want to put on or whatever you want to make with your friends or your vacation experience.

SOUND AND MUSIC HAVE BEEN SUCH A BIG PART OF YOUR CAREER SO FAR—HOW DID YOU GET HERE?

In high school, I was interested in architecture and one of my teachers recommended getting involved in theater for set design. But, I ended up hanging out in the sound booth and learning about lighting and sound controls. I’ve been playing piano and flute for a number of years, so the sound aspect just really caught my interest. I was really excited to learn all of the technology behind something that had only been in the acoustic realm for me before. It opened up a new world for me, like “Wow! People actually do this for their job! That’s amazing! I want to do that!”

HOW DO YOU USE SOUND DESIGN AT ORION?

At Orion, we use sound design in creating audio cues and other sounds for the device. I did research into bird sounds and inflections in voices and how those translate into how we hear them. For example, if you hear a bird sound, does that seem like it’s asking a question, or does it seem like it’s shouting at you? How do we make some sounds that sound modern but also have a link to how humans think?

WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF THE OFFICE?

I’ve got a set of friends that I do interactive, live gaming with. Occasionally, I’ll do projects with them. Some of my friends and I made a game at Maker Faire for kids to learn about puzzle solving and made a little badge that lit up and sent morse code. That was a fun way to pull friends together and it turned out really great.

I’ve been to Maker Faire a couple of times before and love the idea of making things just for the sake of making things and all the support around that. There’s a puzzle hunt community that puts on these short to long puzzle hunts that involve theatrics or event production and running around the city at all hours.

YOU HAVE A MILD FORM OF SYNESTHESIA. CAN YOU DESCRIBE THAT?

I link sounds with colors. It allows me to explore different perspectives on different directions to go with design. It can help with communicating or relating sound to other people because it can be kind of tricky to talk about. In the creation process, I can make shapes and experience sound in more of a visual form rather than purely sonically.

DO YOU HAVE ONE SONG OR SOUND THAT YOU CONSIDER AN ANTHEM OR PERSONAL THEME SONG?

I feel like that changes from week to week! There is a song that re-energizes me about things, though, and that’s “Invincible” by Muse. It makes me feel like I can take over the world!

If you want to go where no one else has gone before, we’d love to meet you. Check out our Jobs Page for available positions.