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On this episode of the Bourbon Friday Show, we had the opportunity to talk to Olena Lazareva, COO of Loro.
Loro—Innovative Assistive Technology
From beginning as a MIT hackathon project, to becoming an Arch Grants recipient, to launching their first pilot program, Loro has come very far since 2017.
But what is Loro?
“Loro is an early stage startup and we developed an innovative assistive technology for people with ALS, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries,” says Lazareva. “It’s for people who are using wheelchairs, who are not able to move and talk, people who need a camera to see what’s around them, and people who need a smart communication device to talk with their loved ones.”
The solution is two-fold, with the hardware for the assistive device mounted to the users wheelchair and an application downloaded to a tablet.
Currently, most other assistive devices with text to speech can take up to ten minutes just to communicate one sentence worth of information, which can be taxing for the user and wastes precious time that the caretaker gets to spend with the user.
With Loro’s product and software, users have access to AI technology that helps users craft sentences by analyzing the surroundings and coming up with common phrases and requests based on the situation. Additionally, the Loro device can be utilized by the blinking of one’s eyes if other motor functions of the user are impaired—a long way from its origins as a camera on a pole used to help a friend with ALS see at sporting events.
Throughout the process, Loro has conducted over 80 user tests in order to create a product that goes beyond current assistive devices. During this testing Loro found that users needed tools like a flashlight and a laser pointer to make day-to-day life easier.
Lazareva attests that user testing has greatly helped the Loro team understand common pain points for both the users of the device, and their caretakers.
Loro is currently undergoing their pilot program with and hopes to have the product and its software out to market in six to eight months. The Team is excited to be launching their product soon, and their goal is to keep improving to help as many people as possible.
As always, the Bourbon Friday team does their best to choose a fitting drink for the occasion.
The bottle this week was Evan Williams Single Barrel. This bourbon was created by Parker Beam—the grand-nephew of Jim Beam. Later in life, Parker Beam was diagnosed with ALS and kept it a secret for some time. When he finally went public with his diagnosis, the bourbon community pitched in to help. Through various fundraisers and support efforts, Parker Beam was able to raise over $1 million before he passed away a few years ago.