Parrots Inc. is showcasing its new device that helps physically-challenged people communicate this week at the CES gadget show, the technology industry’s largest event held annually in Las Vegas.
The Spokane-based medical-device startup developed “Polly,” an artificially intelligent parrot that helps people with disabilities communicate and live independently.
The device can be perched on a wheelchair or bedside and when paired with a laptop or tablet, it provides a 360-degree view for users to safely navigate their surroundings.
The device also leverages machine learning that tracks eye movement to predict users’ needs and communicates in real-time. For example, the device can see orange juice on a table during breakfast and predict when a user would like to ask for a drink.
Parrots Inc. founder and CEO David Hojah said he is answering questions and demonstrating how “Polly” works at a booth in the Tech West section at the Venetian Expo and Convention Center.
“So far, we’ve had some interested people from different backgrounds and industries, and potential investors,” Hojah said. “Hopefully, we’ll get more attention and word will spread about us and what we do … and we hope to expand our mission to help people who need our technology worldwide.”
This year marks the first time Parrots Inc. is participating in CES, which hosts new product presentations and keynote speeches from notable technology companies, in addition to providing networking opportunities for businesses.
Parrots Inc. is among seven Washington-based companies at CES sharing a booth hosted by the Washington State Department of Commerce.
The booth is centrally-located at the venue, which provides more opportunity for networking, Hojah said.
More than 2,300 companies and startups are exhibitors this year at CES, which is organized by the Consumer Technology Association. The trade show is held in-person and virtually Wednesday through Friday.
CES drew more than 170,000 attendees in 2020, but the in-person event was shifted online last year due to the pandemic.
“For more than half a century, the tech industry has relied on CES to meet new customers, find investors, reach members of the media, connect with industry leaders, and discover new innovations,” Karen Chupka, executive vice president of CES, said in a statement.
“This year’s event will deliver all of these – offering thousands of people the opportunity to connect with everyone from big brands to new startups.”
Hojah, a Boston native and Harvard University graduate, launched Parrots Inc. in 2019. Hojah has more than 12 years of experience in artificial intelligence, medical devices, robotics, engineering and health technology.
After Hojah’s uncle sustained a spinal cord injury and his aunt passed away due to multiple sclerosis, he sought to help people living with similar conditions maximize their independence.
Hojah said the idea to create Parrots Inc. was also inspired by his friend, Steve Saling, co-founder of ALS Residence Initiative, a fundraising and advocating group that aims to build homes to serve ALS patients nationwide.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control needed to move, speak, eat and breathe.
Parrots Inc. was named Entrepreneur of the Year by the Association of Washington Business in 2021.
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