Sam Lew was studying at Brigham Young University when he witnessed a woman in a wheelchair trying to get through a door. Seeing the difficulty that she was facing, Sam opened the door for her. That exchange made him think long and hard about the various difficulties faced by students with similar disabilities.
This realization led him towards an initiative which he discussed with 5 of his friends. As members of the Crocker Innovation Fellowship, an interdisciplinary program aimed at innovation and entrepreneurship skills, they decided to start focusing their efforts towards making inventions that would make it easier for wheelchair users to pass through entrance doors. This led to the formation of a company named Piero, which aimed at a widened range of accessibility for people with disabilities.
This startup won the CommonBond Social Impact Award which came with a cash prize of $10,000. This competition was organized by CommondBond, a financial tech company partnering with Pencils of Promise.
The team at Piero comprises of six brilliant students, each belonging to different disciples of study. They are united by their vested interest in Entrepreneurship and social change. They first started conducting interviews with people who use wheelchairs to better understand their day-to-day grievances. These conversations, which were very lengthy, lasted for a long period of time and broadened the team’s collective mind.
After considerate deliberation and research, they came up with a device that attaches to the motor of an automatic door. Its design allows it to be fitted on existing door openers. This device detects Bluetooth signals that are transmitted from a user’s phone. The retrofitted door will recognize the emitted signal and swing open. The product is at the prototype stage and is currently being tested in the university.
The team at Piero has high ambitions and plans to expand their production for other markets as well. It plans to make it a universally used device so that it enables a feeling of empowerment and independence in people with disabilities.