When the COVID-19 pandemic began, members of all industries had to start working from home - for some, the lack of a commute and flexible hours felt like a great improvement; for others, the zoom fatigue and isolation made it difficult to focus. Regardless of the experience, it’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and with its growing presence, there are still many questions about how best to collaborate with colleagues online, especially for teams working on physical hardware
When members of an R&D team are all in the same place, they can examine prototypes together, discuss flaws and defects, and make rapid adjustments. But when they are forced to work remotely and collaborate online, they often need to ship parts around, waiting days or weeks for feedback from their partners due to a lack of good online collaboration tools. While video conferencing applications attempt to solve this problem, they still lack an element of allowing the remote caller to interact with the physical hardware devices being worked on.
TeleDesk proposes to solve this problem, by giving teams of remote workers a way of getting more directly involved in examining a physical specimen. The system consists of an overhead gantry, controlled by the remote user, along which a camera travels. Along with the ability to zoom in on a high-quality image, this gives people not in the room a unique ability to understand what they are looking at. Using a remote-controlled laser pointer, TeleDesk also allows online collaborators to easily point out minute details, and communicate more clearly.
TeleDesk represents a unique entry into an emerging market of advanced online collaboration tools, which has become increasingly evident since the COVID-19 pandemic. This tool has applications not only in R&D, but also STEM education, and manufacturing. In the past year, STEM educators have faced significant difficulty in teaching hands-on classes, like building electrical circuits. In manufacturing, a significant amount of time and cost is often lost when debugging issues, due to needing to ship failed parts around, or fly people across the world. TeleDesk would reduce costs and improve education, by giving remote work a facelift.
Currently, the TeleDesk team has secured a provisional patent to protect the technology being developed, and is working with potential customers to evaluate minimum viable product prototypes, and gain important feedback on useability and required features. This will allow us to refine the technology and ensure that customer needs are met when a product is released. We are also working to improve the design from an industrial design perspective, to be more appealing and easy-to-use.
The next steps for the TeleDesk team include more beta testing, as well as continuing to improve the design, and adding functionality as requested by users. The funding from this award would be instrumental in allowing us to produce more prototypes, and reach more potential customers. On behalf of the team, thank you for your consideration, and we hope you are as excited as we are.