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Episode 55 – Innovating for Accessibility | Dhaval Patel

Published: Thursday July 11, 2024

Pushing Forward with Alycia | A Disability Podcast

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Welcome Dhaval Patel

We recently spoke with Dhaval Patel, founder and CEO of Lotus, on the “Pushing Forward with Alycia” podcast. Dhaval is committed to creating technology that prioritizes accessibility, as exemplified by his company’s innovative smart home device.

The Genesis of Lotus

two wearable lotus rings sitting atop chunks of marble

Dhaval’s journey began with a personal challenge. Born with twisted knees, he has often relied on crutches. One night, after forgetting to turn off the lights before bed, he struggled to get up and flip the switch. This experience sparked the idea for a more accessible way to control lights and appliances, especially for those with mobility limitations.

As an experienced engineer who worked on the iPhone and Apple Watch, Dhaval realized he lacked smart home technology in his own home. He decided to create impactful, accessible technology as his legacy.

Human-Centered Design

Lotus was born from extensive research and a human-centered design approach. Dhaval spent nine months interviewing people with various disabilities, their families, and clinicians to understand their needs. This process informed every aspect of product development.

The result is a wearable ring that allows users to control objects in their home by pointing at them. Unlike existing systems, Lotus requires no apps, rewiring, or internet connection. It works with existing switches and appliances, making any space accessible within seconds.

Key Features of Lotus:

  • Wearable ring with a single button
  • Magnetic switch covers that snap onto existing switches
  • Infrared technology for precise control
  • Long battery life (90 days between charges)
  • Portable and easy to set up

Impact and Reception

Lotus has already received significant attention and accolades, including:

  • Winning the smart home category at South by Southwest
  • Receiving a $100,000 grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research
  • Earning top scores from beta users on ease of use and impact on daily life

Broader Implications for Accessible Design

Dhaval emphasizes that designing for accessibility benefits everyone. He cites closed captions as an example: originally for deaf individuals, now widely used by people of all hearing abilities. This challenges the misconception that social impact and scalable business models are mutually exclusive. By creating simple products, companies can reach larger markets.

Looking Ahead

Lotus is set to launch in about three months, with a waitlist already forming on their website ( Dhaval continues to advocate for accessibility and universal design in technology. His advice for other innovators and entrepreneurs is: “Don’t listen to the naysayers. Lean on your friends and don’t be scared to try something new.” His personal mantra is, “Bas chalna hai, rukna nahi hai” – Just keep walking, stopping is not an option.

As we look to the future of technology and design, companies like Lotus show the immense potential of creating truly accessible products. By prioritizing disability needs, we can build a more inclusive world while driving innovation and business success.

Quote from Dhaval

Our journey over the past year has been incredible. Each story shared, each listener impacted, and every milestone achieved has reinforced our mission to transform challenges into opportunities. Keep pushing forward and never give up.

Dhaval Patel

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Stay tuned for more inspiring conversations on Pushing Forward with Alycia. Open hearts, clear paths. Let’s go.