Techopia Live: Ottawa’s SmartCone builds no-touch tool to battle pandemic

An Ottawa-based high-tech company is shifting its focus to a simpler solution that could solve some common COVID-19 concerns while funding a more rapid response to the pandemic.

Chief executive Jason Lee showed off SmartCone’s newest product on this week’s Techopia Live, though it’s not exactly in the startup’s usual domain of sensors and edge computing networks.

The company’s latest tool addresses the new demand to interact in the physical world without spreading or collecting germs. Though it’s lacking an official name, the claw-like plastic apparatus makes it possible for users to open doors without making contact with high-traffic surfaces and its nub enables hands-free button pressing on elevators or key pads.

OBJ360 (Sponsored)

“This gives you a way to have one single point of touch and then you clean (it) with a cloth and head off to the next place,” Lee told Techopia Live.

SmartCone developed the tool with design and manufacturing support from Ottawa’s Studio 63 and L-D Tool & Die. The companies are coming together to produce the tool as a way to fund other projects that can address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lee explained that the biggest issue in responding to the pandemic is that governments and other decision-making bodies often have one pot of funding to distribute to companies that are looking to support the pandemic response effort, which could create distribution backlogs. 

In selling their own product to help people through the pandemic, the companies will set aside funds to support other members of their new task force in delivering solutions where they’re needed most. The belief is that the task force’s own initiatives could bypass the waitlist for government funding.

“We created the task force to rally together anybody and everybody who’s got a solution that they think they can help become part of a larger delivery,” Lee said.

Visit the SmartCone 19 Task Force website to see the other projects and partners, and watch the video above to hear more about the community response to the pandemic.

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