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ATU683 – Lotus Ring with Dhaval Patel


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Your weekly dose of information that keeps you up to date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist people with disabilities and special needs.
Special Guest:
Dhaval Patel – Founder and CEO – Lotus Laboratories
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—– Transcript Starts Here —–

Hi. This is Dhaval Patel. I’m the founder and CEO of Lotus, and this is your Assistive Technology Update.

Hello, and welcome to your Assistive Technology Update, a weekly dose of information that keeps you up-to-date on the latest developments in the field of technology designed to assist individuals with disabilities and special needs. I’m your host, Josh Anderson with The INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. Welcome to episode 683 of Assistive Technology Update. It is scheduled to be released on June 28th, 2024. Today’s show we’re super excited to be joined by Dhaval Patel. He’s here to tell us all about the Lotus Ring and all the great things that it can do for individuals with just the click of a button on a ring. Folks, don’t forget you can always reach out to us if you have questions, comments, or maybe somebody we should have on the show. Please drop us a line at, or call our listener line at 317-721-7124. We always love hearing from you, and some of our best guest suggestions come straight from you. And for now, folks, let’s go ahead and get on with the show.

Listeners, have you ever wanted to control things in your home by maybe just tapping a small ring on your finger or something like that? Well, our guest today is working to make this a reality. Today we are very excited to welcome Dhaval Patel to Assistive Technology Update to introduce us to the Lotus Ring and all the great things that it can do. Welcome to the show.

Glad to be here. Thanks, Josh.

Yeah, I am really excited to get talking about Lotus Ring, but before we do that, could you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself?

Sure. My name is Dhaval Patel. I’m an electrical engineer and aerospace engineer by training. I went to Georgia Tech, worked at Lutron, the company that makes wall switches after that, and finally ended up at Apple. Started off as an intern. Ended up working on everything from MacBook Pros, MacBook Airs, iPads, iPhone watches, and by the end of my eight and a half years there ended up managing a division for iPhone watch and AirPods.


Then finally, because of reasons I’m happy to get into later, started Lotus.

Excellent. Excellent. Well, I guess let’s just start with where did the idea for Lotus and the Lotus Ring come from?

Yeah, the story really starts with me. I was born with twisted knees, and over the years I’ve been on and off crutches. And one night a few years ago, I got into bed having left the lights on accidentally, but I was too tired to get out of bed, hop onto my crutches, hobble 10 feet, turn off the light, hobble back 10 feet and get back into bed. So I just slept with the lights on the entire night and woke up in the morning thinking, well, if someone like me, an engineer managing a division at Apple with expertise in wall electronics from Lutron and 37 patents, if an engineer like me doesn’t even have smart home technology in their own home, who does? And so that’s how it all started.

Excellent. Excellent. Which I guess that just brings us on to just what is the Lotus Ring?

Yeah. So in a nutshell, for people with limited mobility, we’ve made this wearable ring that controls objects at home by pointing, but unlike, say Alexa, there’s no apps, no rewiring and no internet needed.

Excellent. So I guess I have to ask how does it control things?

Yeah. So let’s work backwards, right? So in a nutshell, if you had to do this today… 91% of us homes were built before smart homes even existed, but there’s no easy way to upgrade. Even if you wanted an Alexa, well, the very first step is rewiring your existing wall switches to connect to the internet to be able to talk to Alexa. That’s step number one. Now, if you somehow got over that hurdle, step number two is you have to put a smart speaker in every room of your house where you just rewired your switches. And step number three, if you got through the first two hurdles, you have to pair every switch one by one through another app. And just the first step of rewiring is about 11 hours, or $2,000. And that’s best case if you own the home. If you rent an apartment, there’s no solution. If you’re traveling for work or for pleasure, there’s no solution. So this affects everyone, but it disproportionately affects the 27 million people like me with limited mobility. We’re talking veteran soldiers, older adults and disabled persons, who can end up spending up to an extra three and a half or four hours at home on self-care daily.

So like I mentioned, to solve this, we created this ring that controls objects at home by pointing, but without apps or rewiring or internet. And the way it works, and I’ll try and describe this as best as I can, step one, you put on the Lotus Ring. There’s just one button on the ring. And so putting on the ring once eliminates the need to have a smart speaker in every room of your house, because the ring, that is the controller, the ring goes with you wherever you go. So you don’t need a smart speaker everywhere. The ring stays with you. So that’s step number one. Step number two, for any existing wall switch in your house, you can attach the second half of the Lotus system, the Lotus Switch Cover, and it just snaps onto existing wall switches using magnets.

Oh, nice.

So there’s no rewiring necessary. You just bring it near close to the wall switch, and it snaps on. You can probably hear it.


Now, you can also walk up to the wall switch and use it like a regular wall switch, because the switch cover has the button in the front. So you can just press it anywhere, and it’ll click on. But the most important part, being step three, you can click the single button on the Lotus ring-


And it will automatically control that wall switch now. And so all you do is point and click. So step one, put on the ring. Step two, snap on the Lotus Switch Cover. Step three, point and click. And with that, you can control whatever the wall switch controls. So it’s lights or fans or an appliance like a window unit AC. And because the ring is using infrared, we can also control televisions.

Oh, that’s great. Yeah, and I love the way that I don’t even have to unscrew my wall plate or anything. It snaps-


Right on there. So if I have limited mobility or other physical challenges, I don’t really need anyone else to help me set this up. It just take it out of the box, put it up, and roll with it.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, basically it’s letting you convert any space into an accessible space in seconds, I mean, literally seconds. And in addition, you can take it with you wherever you go. And that combination seems to be really resonating with people. I mean, when I travel… We just won a pitch competition last week, and so I had to travel and stay for a few days in a hotel. I had the Lotus system with me in the hotel, and I was using it in the hotel.

Oh yeah. I even think of family houses and everything else. You could bring it with you or have others set up there just so you always had control. So I guess I can control different switches. Is it just controlled by which one I’m pointing at or in the room with? Or how would it work if I had multiple switches?

Correct. Great question. So we’re thinking ultimately… So we’re not in production yet. We will launch in about three months. And when we launch, we’re thinking one pack will be one ring and, say three switch covers. So let’s say you put one in front of you, one on your right and one on your left. So let’s say 12 o’clock, three o’clock and nine o’clock. The beauty is because we’re using infrared, think of it as a TV remote control. Only the object you are pointing to with the Lotus ring will turn on and off.


Everything else does not get activated. And so that’s the nice thing. Only the object you’re pointing to you can control, and everything else stays off. And so whatever you’re trying to control, just point to it and click.

That is awesome. Now, what about battery life? How long can it last between charges? And then how would I charge it in between?

Great question. So that was one of the complaints about current internet postings. In fact, the reason everything needs rewiring is anything that’s internet-connected has to be on the network all the time, by definition. Because it has to be on the network all the time, it is drawing power all the time. Hence, the wires, because it needs power all the time. With Lotus, we’re only taking power for the 50 milliseconds that you push the button. And so instead of charging it every day like an Apple Watch or every day like a health ring, like an Oura Ring, we only need to charge the ring once in 90 days.

Oh, wow.

Nine zero. And that’s the same for the Lotus Ring and the Lotus Switch Cover. You only need to charge it once in 90 days.

Oh, nice. No, that’s not bad at all. And yeah, I guess if you are just doing it whenever it’s that click, I mean, unless you’re click-happy, I guess, and just sitting there and holding it down and going back and forth, but still, that’s great, because I sit there and think of not just folks with disabilities, but also I know seniors, maybe folks who are a little bit older and have some mobility challenges a lot of times don’t want my house listening to me or kind of all these other things that you have to with internet of things with other controllers. So having one that’s just a button not connected to the internet and maybe not taking your data or listening to your conversations is a nice little breath of fresh air, something that-

Yeah, exactly. And so you nailed it on the ahead, Josh. Essentially, it has two benefits. One, it takes very, very little power because it’s not online. In fact, it’s completely offline. But the added benefit, exactly like you said, was a lot of people we spoke to did not want anything listening or had significant privacy concerns with say, Alexa or Google Home, et cetera. Privacy was a big concern. And so this system is basically not hackable, right? It’s completely offline. It’s like your TV remote. There’s nothing to hack because it’s not connected to the internet. So nothing’s listening to you. Your data doesn’t go anywhere. Everything is just on the device, and it’s in your home basically.

Dhaval, how far away can I be to actually still control things?

It’s a great question. In fact, that was one of the things that took long. We have a large range, so we guarantee you can still use the device up to 30 feet.


In fact, in our testing, it works up to 38 feet, and then we literally had to get out of the house. We ran out of space [inaudible 00:11:19] homes that were even bigger. So even diagonally in a large room, like a common living space, it still works. And so we guarantee 30 feet, but like I said, in our testing, it’s gone up to 38 feet.

That is awesome. Tell me about maybe some of the feedback you’ve had during testing. What did people think of it, or maybe some other kind of feedback that you’ve gotten?

Yeah, it’s great. I mean, so far, thankfully, knock on wood, with all our prototypes, the feedback was good, but it wasn’t always the case. And one example really quickly comes to mind. So for the Lotus Switch Cover, when we first started making sort of 3D-printed prototypes and handing them to people, we did not use to have a button on the front. It was just a little strip on the bottom so infrared could come in, and that was it. And very quickly we got feedback in the very first two days with some of these test users [inaudible 00:12:15] to, saying, “Hey, I love it because I have the Lotus Ring, and I can turn on and off that wall switch,” whatever it was controlling, lights fans, et cetera, “but my significant other in the same home hates it because you have now covered up that wall switch, and they can’t use it manually. So can you please add some kind of button so they can continue using it as well, even if they don’t have a Lotus Ring?”

And so very quickly, we sort of made another version of the prototype, which had two small buttons in the front for on and off. And very quickly we got the feedback, “Okay, this is definitely better, but those buttons are really small, and so the other people in the house have to kind of hunt for those two small buttons. Can you make the buttons bigger?” And so essentially, we just made it so that the entire front surface is the one giant button. And so now people really like it. In fact, we even have a little scallop, so your finger has a nice spot to rest and find the button. So that was one of the pieces of feedback we quickly got.

On the ring side, everyone has found it very easy to use. I mean, my expertise was human interface at Apple. That’s what I did. And so the button is just like the button on your keyboard. It’s high enough. It only needs about 100 grams to push. So it’s high enough that you don’t do accident little clicks, but it’s not so high that even a person with low finger mobility or low fine motor control is unable to use it. So we’ve given this to people with Parkinson’s, we’ve given this to people with other kinds of limited finger mobility, and they have used everything from their own opposable thumb to their opposite hand, to folks in the wheelchairs that have even used it against their knee. So it’s very easy to use.

Nice. No, I really like that. I really like the story about putting the switch on the front because I could definitely see some fights coming out of that one. If only one person gets to control the things in the house, that could definitely be bad. Do I need to pair this with the different devices? Or how do I set it up with my different… I keep calling them switch covers. I know there’s a better name for it than that. That’s just what’s in my head, but-

No, switch covers are good. Yeah, it’s a great question, Josh. The short answer is there is no pairing. And so the nice thing is it’s literally plug and play. You snap on the switch cover, and the thing you’re pointing to will turn on and off. And the reason there is no pairing is infrared doesn’t need any pairing. It’s like your TV remote. There was no pairing needed to just have it working. And the reason this is important was that was one of the big problems with internet of things today, where if I come to visit you or your dad comes to visit you, even if you already spent all the money and all the time to have a smart home, if they came to visit you, they couldn’t use any of your smart home technology. For starters, they don’t have access to your smartphone. And even if they somehow did, they wouldn’t know what the different objects have been paired as. Is this living room light?

Oh yeah.

Or kitchen light? Or light number 23? Versus with Lotus, it’s literally no different than them coming to your home and turning on your television, literally. And vice versa. So you can use it in your parents’ home. They can use it in your home. It’s like a telephone. The more people that have it, the more beneficial your own device gets, because there is no pairing. And so it benefits from what’s called network effects.

Now, in looking through and preparing for today, I found some stuff on your website that Lotus Labs says that optimizing tech for disability first makes it more usable for everyone. And while I can’t really agree more with this, could you elaborate on this and just how maybe it’s influenced the creation of the Lotus Ring and just, I don’t know, I guess your personal journey a little bit?

Yeah, absolutely. In fact, speaking of the personal journey, when I originally thought of this, I was only thinking of myself.


I was also convinced it was the stupidest idea in the whole world, because everything is internet of things, and here I am going the opposite direction. Infrared has been around for 30 years. It’s an every TV remote. Why would anybody want this? And so to convince myself, I spent the first nine months just interviewing people with different kinds of disabilities. We’re talking not just limited mobility. I interviewed people who were blind, low vision, deaf, cognitive disabilities, family members of folks with cognitive disabilities and also clinicians. And generally the feedback we got was everybody wanted some type of smart home. Everyone loved the idea, but people hated either having to rewire their home or having to connect everything to the internet or privacy or needing another app. I don’t think I met a single person who said, “Oh my God, my life would be so much better if I had five more apps on my phone.” Nobody. I did not come across a single person. So they all wanted the benefits of a smart home, but without needing rewiring or apps or internet. And so that was the premise. And it got me thinking, there are so many other pieces of technology that have started this way. You solve for disability first, or the “corner user first,” and that ends up coming up with a solution that’s usable by everyone.

I mean, there’s lots of examples of this, but curb cuts are a common one. I mean, people often think of that only for wheelchair users, but anyone that’s a new parent can use that [inaudible 00:17:48]. If an older adult is using a walker, you can use it with that. If you’re just needing to push your grocery cart up the curb, you can use that. So there’s never a situation where that is bad. So why shouldn’t all technology be built that’s usable by everyone by optimizing for disability first? And so that’s our thesis at Lotus. We only build tech that anybody can use. You don’t have to be disabled, but we do that by optimizing for disability first. That way it’s small enough, light enough, easy enough, fast enough that anybody can use. And so why not do that anyway?

And there’s tons of examples for this. Like closed captions, it was originally built for people who were deaf, for television back in 1972, I think, but we all use it all the time today. I mean, you see it everywhere on TikTok to if you’re in a sports bar and watching TV to at an airport. So why not do that all the time? It just seems to be that it seems to happen less in physical products, in hardware. And so that became our thesis. And so that’s our mission statement. We only build tech that is usable by everyone by optimizing for disability first, which essentially the solutions you end up with are a good combination of inclusive design and of course universal design.

No, that’s absolutely awesome. I wish everyone thought that way or everyone could at least look at those examples and be able to tell and look at their day and how many times they’ve probably even used all these things that, again, like you said, were maybe created out of necessity for individuals with disabilities, but next thing you know, everybody’s using them because [inaudible 00:19:19].

And that’s the feedback… You asked the question earlier what kind of feedback we’re getting. Probably the number one piece of feedback I get is, wait a second, I can use this too, and I don’t have a disability. And I get this from all different groups of people, which is fantastic. I get it from new parents who have just put a baby to sleep, and they don’t want to get up to turn on the lights or turn off the fan because they may wake the baby up, to older adults who have limited mobility to begin with, to people who don’t want to get out of bed at night because it’s cold and they just got into bed and forgot to turn off the lights or turn off the fan or turn on the fan, as the case may be, or older adults who are trying to use the bathroom at night or in the catch 22 of how do you turn on the light switch in the dark, to right now. You and I are talking and we’re on Zoom, or if you’re in the middle of a Zoom meeting and your pet needs to go out the door or the sun’s in your eye, you don’t want pause your meeting in the middle and say, “Hey, give me a second. I’m just going to go close the curtains,” and have 50 people waiting on your call.

You just want to be able to swiftly move your blinds or turn off your curtains. You’re able to do that. Or you just have grocery bags, right?


Your hands are full. So there’s everything from permanent disability to pregnancy… Prenatal to postnatal is a year… to situational. And so that’s my most favorite kind of feedback, which is, hey, I don’t have a disability, and I could use it too.

And of all, what current phase are you in? And I guess what’s coming down the pipeline?

So in terms of what we can control today and what we’re working on next, so today you can control whatever the wall switch controls. So people only think lights, but really because it’s agnostic to what the switch is controlling, you can control whatever the switch controls, lights, fans, appliances. And because we’re using infrared like a TV remote control, we can of course control TVs. Now, that’s what we’ve created today. Next, we already have prototypes for anything that plugs into the wall, so a plug-in lamp or a plug-in fan or something else, often used by different people with disabilities, depending on their condition, for instance, like an air purifier or a humidifier, as the case may be, especially the ones that are on the floor to help avoid folks having to lean out of their wheelchairs to turn it on and off, because that’s a fall risk.


And so right now, anything that a wall switch controls and TVs. Next up is anything that plugs into a wall, followed by drapes, followed by doors. So that’s the order of what we’re building.


And for not having to ask help from another person just to do the little things in your own space. But the even higher benefit is the less you stand, the less you fall. This is especially true for older adults. Most people go from a sit-to-stand position or a stand-to-sit position roughly about 61 times a day. That’s what the research shows. And especially for older adults, 89.7% of all falls happen going from a sit-to-stand, a stand-to-sit or walking. Only 1% seems to happen because of doing something risky. And so the nice thing with the Lotus Ring is if you know of a loved one that is at risk of falling, either because of something like diabetes where you have neuropathy in your feet and so you have less sensation, or they’re just having limited mobility and they’re on crutches, like me, or they have unsteady gait, the less you stand, the less you fall. And so that’s one of the benefits of the Lotus Ring.


But we’re also trying to make sure that anyone with any kind of disability ultimately can still benefit from the Lotus technology. So today you can control anything around you with a point and click. It’s the least cognitive effort and least physical effort. It’s easy to understand and easy to do. But moving on, let’s say you had arthritis. We already have test users today who have arthritis that can use it, but let’s say hypothetically you couldn’t use your opposable thumb and push the button. In addition, for phase two, the next thing we’re working on is instead of fine motor control, to use gross motor control to control the same objects.

Oh, nice.

Instead of just using your thumb, you can move your whole arm, sort of like minority report, and move it around to control things around you. Now, again, for most people, most of the time just using your opposable thumb is going to be easier, but if you happen to be in the situation, you’re also going to be able to in gen two use your whole arm to control objects around you. Now, let’s say you couldn’t even do that. So instead of arthritis, let’s say you’ve had a stroke or you’re a quadriplegic, you can’t move your arm at all. In that situation, for gen 2.5 or gen three, we’re also going to allow voice to control the same objects.


And the added benefit of voice is that you can control things in neighboring rooms as well. And so that’s what’s coming down the pipeline.

Excellent. We can’t wait to see all of that as it continues to progress as well. Well, if our listeners want to find out more, maybe get in on preorder, just find out more information, what’s good ways for them to do that?

Absolutely. So you can go now to That’s, and you can get on the wait list. We’re not taking any money right now, but you can get on the wait list. We’re trying to prioritize and make sure that people really need it get it first. And so, yeah, if you know of somebody who could really benefit, like a grandparent or someone you know with limited mobility, or just yourself because you’re a new parent, just go to, provide your information. And, again, we don’t even need a credit card. Just add in your information, and you get on the wait list. And then when we launch in September, we’ll give you a notification, and you can decide what you want to do.

That is awesome. We’ll put that down in the show notes so that our listeners can go and definitely check it out because I know there’s some good videos on there just to give you a little bit better idea. I know sometimes just in talking it doesn’t always come through, but thanks for doing such a good job of explaining it, because again, a very cool tool, a very big need. And I love the way that you went… And I don’t want to say simplistically, because I realized the technology within it and everything, putting it together is not a simple process, but something that’s actually not just helpful, not just going to be able to help folks overcome barriers, but actually usable and pretty simple to set up. That’s a great idea and something you don’t always see. So thank you for coming on the show today and telling us all about it.

Thank you, Josh. Wonderful being here.

Do you have a question about assistive technology? Do you have a suggestion for someone we should interview on Assistive Technology Update? If so, call our listener line at 317-721-7124. Send us an email at, or shoot us a note on Twitter, @INDATAproject. Our captions and transcripts for the show are sponsored by the Indiana Telephone Relay Access Corporation, or INTRAC. You can find out more about INTRAC at A special thanks to Nikol Prieto for scheduling our amazing guests and making a mess of my schedule. Today’s show was produced, edited, hosted and fraught over by yours truly. The opinions expressed by our guests are their own and may or may not reflect those of the INDATA Project, Easterseals Crossroads, our supporting partners or this host. This was your Assistive Technology Update. I’m Josh Anderson with the INDATA Project at Easterseals Crossroads in beautiful Indianapolis, Indiana. We look forward to seeing you next time. Bye-Bye.

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