Patent Pending

Student invention may change TV viewing, end family fights

Recent Duke graduate Alex Edelsburg's entrepreneurial spirit led him to help invent a solution to the familiar problem of people sharing one television and disagreeing about which program to watch.

"Mobile Remote Control of a Shared Media Resource" is the title of a patent application naming him as an inventor, along with computer engineering professor Chris Dwyer, Provost Peter Lange and others.

"What we have filed for patent is a device that allows for remote control -- democratic remote control -- of TVs in a public space," explained Edelsburg, a Hallandale, Fla., native with bachelor's (2010) and master's (2011) degrees from Duke in computer and electrical engineering. "It's a small box sitting next to the TV [that] puts up a unique code every fifteen minutes. Students can send a text message with that unique code and the channel number they want. It will tally the votes at the end of the fifteen minutes and change the channel to the winner."

Edelsburg ended up on the patent through his work for Dwyer during an independent study course, but it's not his only technology venture. Although he started a job at Microsoft this summer, Edelsburg continues to work on the RoomBug Facebook application he and some friends built and have sold to a handful of universities. The program uses information incoming freshman post on their Facebook pages to suggest roommate matches to college administrators.