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The simple yet useful tool teenagers in Wisconsin invented

Posted at 3:58 PM, Feb 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-09 17:58:48-05

HARTLAND, Wisc. — A high school robotics team from Hartland, Wisconsin has invented a simple yet useful tool that was inspired by doctor-patient communication issues.

Joshua Otte, Grace Dai, and Teekay Kowalewski were approached by nurses from Advocate Aurora Health in Summit, Wisconsin during the beginning of the pandemic. Healthcare providers were having a tough time examining their patients during telehealth conferences while looking at their charts. They wanted to do both at the same time, and none of them had two monitors.

The three high school engineers and their robotics team came up with a laptop phone mount. It slides on top of your laptop, and you place your phone on a small platform. It's a simple enough idea but has a big impact.

“The purpose of the product is to free up your screen space, so we can have the Zoom running up on the phone up above our computer screen, and then we can use the computer screen for whatever else you would like to do," Teekay Kowalewski said.

The phone mount acts a second monitor, so you can see the person you are video chatting with while looking at your computer screen.

It allows for more personal connections between doctors and patients. Gone are the days of 'let me switch my screens.'

“It really increases efficiency and allows for dual-screen use," Grace Dai said.

So the team designed and manufactured about 15 and donated them to the medical staff. They also donated around 80 to their teachers at Arrowhead High School.

Given the positive feedback the team has gotten, they've decided to bring their product to the public. The phone mount is listed on Amazon and Etsy for $20. They've been relatively successful since they unveiled their product in December.

“We’re two phone mounts away from a thousand dollars in revenue which is a really big market for us," Kowalewski said.

They aren't pocketing that money. It's either going to college tuition or back into the business.

"For different ad campaigns across Amazon, Etsy, Facebook, Instagram. Just kind of get our product out there, so the public can see it," Joshua Otte.

For these young entrepreneurs and engineers, this has proven to be a valuable learning experience.

"We learned a lot about actually manufacturing and development and how to make product come from an idea to a product to all the manufacturing to all the fulfillment network. All that other steps along the way," Kowalewski said.

The mount simply goes over your screen and you can safely place your phone on the mount.

It has been a crash course in business, manufacturing, engineering, marketing and so much more for these high school students. They had to figure out exactly what everything cost and how much they could make from it. They said it costs about $6 for the phone mount to get to a customer's front door. They sell each mount for $20, so they are making $14 per sale.

"You never really think that that is going to be you. But then the opportunity came, and there’s no reason for us to not have taken that opportunity, and really expand what we know about the world, and what we know about entrepreneurship at its core," Grace Dai said.

Here is a recap of useful links to learn more or buy their product: Contact the team, Amazon, and Etsy.

This story was first published by James Groh at TMJ4 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.