By Adrian Cable
For a 50 year-old invention, whiteboards have proven to be incredibly durable. Despite all the advancements made in presentation software, collaboration apps and other digital wizardry, this simple tool remains a mainstay in classrooms, offices, labs and conference rooms around the world.
This isn’t to say the whiteboard can’t be improved upon. Even engineers, designers and other technical professionals who rely heavily on whiteboards admit it’s a struggle sharing diagrams, code and other complex information with each other, particularly remote teams.
Taurus Fabrication is a company that employs such people. They work together to create precision tools that are in use in robotic assembly lines by some of the world’s biggest auto manufacturers. Taurus works closely with these manufacturers on all stages of the manufacturing process—from concept design through prototype to production—which means its engineers and designers must be able to collaborate with customer teams that are dispersed all around the world.
Taurus’ engineers and designers use whiteboards to generate, iterate and communicate ideas visually, both with onsite staff and with remote teams. For many engineers and designers, despite attempts to move whiteboarding into the digital realm, the real-world whiteboard is still the collaboration tool of choice. It simply provides a more natural point of collaboration where team members can get up and simply get thoughts out of their heads. For many, thinking and ideating is virtually impossible when you’re sitting down. You need to stand up, move around the board, and thrive on the energy that’s created in the room.
But with the whiteboard comes limitations. The team struggled when trying to use the physical whiteboard to present and collaborate with remote teams. They tried several video camera set-ups but couldn’t achieve the quality they needed to ensure a clear broadcast. Presenters often stood between the camera and the board. Viewers couldn’t hear what they were saying. Two-way collaboration was practically impossible. On top of the broadcast limitations, the Taurus team had no easy way to digitize the information so that it could be refined and eventually implemented. As much as they loved and depended on the old fashioned whiteboard, they realized they needed to evaluate new technologies.
There were a few agreed upon imperatives:
- The information needed to be saved in a way that made it easily accessible for future reference while capturing the full thought process involved. For a manufacturer of laser-cut precision tools, being able to show the progression from one drawing or diagram to the next was an absolute must.
- All remote participants needed to clearly see what was being written on the board.
- All remote participants needed to clearly hear the presenter(s) and the presenter(s).
- Security would have to be tight. Information shared by Taurus with its customers tends to be highly sensitive proprietary designs.
To their glee, the Taurus team was able to forgo the expensive collaboration technology they weren’t comfortable with and get exactly what they were looking for in Kaptivo, a start-up that could modernize their physical whiteboard without replacing it.
Kaptivo turns any whiteboard into a digital communication platform, digitizing whatever is written on the whiteboard. With Kaptivo, the Taurus could:
- Connect globally dispersed teams and groups
- Dramatically improve the whiteboard image by eliminating streaks, glares, shadows, obstructions and bad angles
- Securely save and share sessions and presentations in their entirety, without having to worry about taking notes or snapping photos, which can lead to the leaking confidential info
Best of all, Taurus’ engineers and designers could continue using the tool they practically grew up on to collaborate. Sometimes, “out with the old and in with the new” can mean sticking with the old after all.
President, CTO, Co-Founder
Light Blue Optics, Inc. / Kaptivo