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Interview with Adrian Cable, co-founder of Kaptivo

The online collaboration tool that turns any whiteboard into a shareable presentation

Entrepreneur interview by Josiah Motley
May 26, 2017
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/49a0

Ever find yourself in yet another stale meeting struggling to keep up with the presentation, while simultaneously attempting to listen to the person giving the presentation? You're not alone. In fact, most humans have a hard time consuming visual and auditory information simultaneously, even if they don't realize it. While our brains can accomplish lots of things at the same time, we simply have a difficult time trying to consume visual information while also trying to digest voices. This is due to the two senses sharing access to your association cortex, where, typically, your visual information takes priority.

So, what are you going to do? If you can't consume voices and visuals simultaneously then where do you focus, or if you're the person doing the presentation, how do you guarantee your audience is retaining important information from both sources? If Kaptivo has anything to say about it, you'll no longer have to choose. With Kaptivo, you basically turn your whiteboard into a visual collaboration tool that can be viewed in almost real time or saved and viewed at a later time.

It works with any whiteboard and requires the installation of the Kaptivo camera above the whiteboard and a power supply somewhere close and the Wi-Fi capable unit will start recording your whiteboard. It's a pretty smart system, as well, and will edit out hands and other obstructions that may present themselves.

Adrian Cable, co-founder of Kaptivo took the time to answer some questions pertaining to their visual collaboration tool and the inspiration that drove creation, so make sure to check out the interview below!

Care to introduce yourself and your role at Kaptivo? 

Hi! I’m Adrian Cable, co-founder, President and CTO at Kaptivo. My typical day is pretty varied but everything I do ultimately comes back to a focus on delivering an incredible experience to our customers. So, that includes everything from working on future collaboration product concepts, to diving into product engineering to make sure everything runs smooth, to working with our investors to make sure we have the fuel in the tank to deliver to our plans, now and for years to come.

What inspired the idea behind whiteboard sharing? What was that "ah-ha!" moment for you?

I’ve always relied on whiteboards pretty much every day for brainstorming and presenting my ideas – they’re such a great collaboration tool, yet so simple. And like most people, I also rely on video conferencing and other remote collaboration tools to work with team members outside my office (most of my engineering team is in the UK, but I’m based in California).

And I just got so frustrated that these two workflows can’t be used together – before Kaptivo there was no effective way to share the whiteboard workflow with people outside the room. Like many people I used to take pictures of the board with my phone and email them out, but it was so disruptive to the meeting (telling your CEO to move out the way so you can take a photo of his whiteboard work doesn’t always go down well), and I just ended up with a mass of disorganized (confidential!) content on my personal device.

I kept thinking about how awful that it’s 2017 where we have self-driving cars and stuff and we still insist on taking photographs of whiteboards. So rather than accept the status quo, we decided to do something about it. (And, it helped that my previous venture involved developing interactive whiteboards for the education market – we learned a lot about how not to do things if we wanted to develop an enterprise product that people loved – which really focused us on prioritizing affordability, simplicity, and a frictionless user experience from the outset.)

What types of technology have gone into the development of Kaptivo?

It has taken a lot of complex technology to deliver a simple, intuitive, frictionless user experience. Kaptivo incorporates a patented optical engine, a new enterprise-grade IoT device platform developed entirely in house, and proprietary computer vision and image analysis algorithms, all optimized to run on a very cost effective processor design, so we could offer the product at a price point that would make it difficult for any whiteboard power user to say no to.


How is the unit able to differentiate the objects to record (words, etc., but not hands) and which ones to ignore?

That’s our secret sauce! Our image analysis engine looks at contrast, colour, texture, how content varies over time, and many other factors to separate the ink on your whiteboard from things we need to ignore, like shadows, reflections, ambient illumination changes, dirty surface/old ink, body parts, etc.

It took a lot of effort to get it just right, and to ensure it worked reliably across a huge range of office/home environments and whiteboard types.

What kind of hurdles did you face when designing the unit?

Kaptivo is really not a single thing but a complex ecosystem of parts – an optical engine, a wireless networking platform, processing hardware, firmware, algorithms, cloud software and services – that all have to work well together in a huge range of environments with different lighting and whiteboard types, interacting with a huge range of device types (tablets, PCs, phones) running on different types of networks with many different versions of many different browsers.

Developing the automated test technologies to allow us to optimize operation and performance under such a broad range of conditions was extremely complex and took a lot of time, but the results have really paid off.

Your latest update allows for Trello and Slack sharing. How does it work, and how does it help customers?

Our vision with Kaptivo is to integrate whiteboarding effortlessly into the enterprise collaboration workflow. This means we need to work seamlessly with the tools you use every day to collaborate – not just video conferencing, but also key enterprise productivity tools. Slack and Trello are two of the most popular (non-video conferencing) tools that people use to collaborate, so we wanted to integrate with those first, but we’re focused on working closely with all the tools you depend on, so watch out for many other integrations to come.

The Slack/Trello integrations are proving really popular with our customers – for the first time they can now integrate their whiteboard workflow with their favourite productivity tools, and it’s also proving to be a great way for people using these to get exposure to the Kaptivo platform. We’ve seen quite a few people discovering Kaptivo serendipitously this way, and then going on to buy their own Kaptivo.

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I'd like to thank Adrian for taking the time to answer some questions. Kaptivo was founded in 2015 and had a successful Kickstarter campaign in March of 2016.