(Chapter 3) Meet the Telenauts!
Introducing the team of designers behind our Teleportation Kit.
After remotely losing his mom to cancer, Akshay couldn’t stand the thought of more families facing the same pain of distance-separation that he did. So he founded Tangible Teleportation Co. with the mission of moving the world past video calls, to a better way of being physically present for loved ones, when life makes it otherwise impossible.
A Stanford engineer, smart clothing designer, and inventor of a dozen prosthetics and wearables – Akshay has shipped his products to seven different countries, launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, and co-founded a music education non-profit with Carnegie Hall at the age of 18.
“My mission is to take a leap forward for humankind,” said Akshay. “Creating a sense of immersive presence over distance is not an engineering problem – it's not about the number of pixels and bytes you can send from one phone to another. You need to focus on the actual humans.”
Akshay wants to place humans, not computers, at the center of the experience, and believes that by approaching telecommunication as a design problem, he can move the world from ‘telecommunication’ to ‘teleportation’.
After graduating from Stanford as a Symbolic Systems major with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence, Katie became Team Tangible’s Head of Mixed Reality and Inclusive Design, an interdisciplinary role that encompasses software, experience design, and user research.
Her primary goal is to make the Teleportation Kit’s use of immersive touch as accessible, expressive, and open-ended as possible. Her current focus is applying computer vision and machine learning techniques to integrate new features into the Teleportation Kit, in addition to designing the Telepillow’s touch sensations.
“I'm really excited to see what our users will create, and how we can help them connect in new ways. What we're creating is much more organic than video calls. We're bringing body language and nonverbal cues back to distance-separated communication. But the immersive sensations have even more potential, more than simulating reality – there are so many creative, out-there, magical use cases as well.”
“I’ve compared [the process of learning to use immersive touch] to learning to play a musical instrument, but it's really more like learning a language. So how can we make immersive touch over distance a ‘speakable’ language? What do people want to say, and how can we give them intuitive ways to say it? Those are the questions we're trying to answer. And we're never done asking these kinds of questions – I'm diving deeper into the psychology of touch, and the role it plays in our users’ lives, every day. It's amazing stuff.”
Noah is a 2x entrepreneur who has an affinity for marketing, design, and woodworking. Over the past 8 years, Noah has sold thousands of men’s accessories and helped manufacture, sell, and scale a luxury watch startup in Kansas City. Noah joined Tangible Teleportation Co. in March of 2020, and has been working on marketing, design, and user experience.
“Nothing excites me more than working with such a creative, passionate team,” said Noah. “We are crafting an experience that combines software and hardware in the name of creating a sense of physical connection in an immersive reality context – how can you not be fizzed about that?”
Noah is looking forward to creating a memorable experience that engages not only the senses of sight and sound, but also touch. “This opportunity for us to add another dimension of communication in a video call is extraordinary. Especially since this is such a nascent space, the potential for the kind of innovation & impact our team can create is beyond exciting.”
Isabel is a cellist-turned cognitive scientist and behavioral researcher. Over the past four years, she has been involved with a variety of research projects exploring topics in visual perception, developmental psychology, and human-robot interaction. Her work has been published in international conferences and journals.
Isabel onboarded as a Telenaut this summer as the team’s Lead UX Researcher, and is razor-focused on understanding and prioritizing the people using the Teleportation Kit. In doing so, she is excited to launch a new future of communication — one that reminds us of the power and value of human connection and touch.
“My mission as a researcher is to not only create a successful, seamless product. I hope to utilize technology to create an emotional and memorable experience that brings people joy and love, even from afar.”
Paul joined as a Telenaut in the summer of 2020, and has since assumed the role of Head of Hardware, handling all things electronics and manufacturing. With a graduate degree from Stanford in Electrical Engineering, he strives to make a direct and physically tangible impact on the world around him.
"Hardware ties us to the physical world, and our Teleportation Kit really hones in on this idea. Physical touch is highly important in my life. It's a primary love language of mine and a big part of how I communicate and empathize, so I'm sorely aware of that missing dimension in my online interactions with loved ones."
Paul hopes to leverage his technical background to enable human-centered design in consumer-facing products. Alongside the team's design-oriented mindset, he operates with a designer-before-engineer principle, noting that, while an engineer starts at step one, asking 'How do we solve this problem?' a designer starts at step zero, and asks 'Are we solving the right problem?'"
Jolene is a serial entrepreneur with a diverse background in hospitality, marketing and finance. She’s built and sold multiple businesses, including a restaurant, catering company, and high-end cake shop. Jolene helps craft Team Tangible’s business and marketing strategy.
Jolene has two grown up kids of her own and felt an instant affinity when she first discovered Tangible Teleportation Co., having been separated for almost 2 years from her children and other family members in Australia.
“The thing that breaks my heart everyday is not being able to be physically present with my kids, not be able to give them a hug. To be part of something that is enhancing communication and creating a new type of connection when physical presence is not possible, what we’re creating together at Tangible Teleportation Co. just resonates so highly with me”.
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If you’re interested in joining our journey, reach out to us and say hello – we’d love to hear from you. And if you didn’t know – we’re semi-secretly opening up for beta! Sign up through our website to claim your spot, and experience our Teleportation Kit with up to a dozen loved ones of your choice.
Get in touch with us: email@example.com