Real World Tech
Blair Casey leads the charge for ALS patients assistive tech at Team Gleason, Brian Lozes revolutionizes VR at Kinemagic
For the last 20 or so years we’ve been living through a technology revolution.
When we talk about the pioneers behind this revolution, we usually refer to the creators of phones, software, e-commerce, or a combination of all three. For example, an app that summons a car to pick you up. Or an app that creates a playlist of your favorite music.
Some of these tech advances are so integrated into our daily lives, we say we “couldn’t live without them.” In reality, though, we could. If Uber, Pandora, or even Amazon disappeared tomorrow, it might take a little adjustment, but our lives, for the most part, would go on just fine.
But, there are advances in technology that have an extraordinary impact on the quality of life for people whose lives do, literally, depend on them. Here in New Orleans, since 2012, an organization called Team Gleason has delivered more than $15m worth of life-changing technology to 20,000 people living with ALS, a neuro-degenerative disorder, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Inspired and guided by Saints football legend and ALS patient Steve Gleason, the technology that Team Gleason is most involved with is a sophisticated interface that allows someone with ALS who no longer has the ability of speech, or other motor functions, to use miniscule motions of their eyes to trigger a device that talks – in the person’s own voice – and performs other commands, like operating a motorized wheelchair, or changing channels on a TV.
As you might imagine, this extraordinary technology is expensive. Team Gleason has been instrumental in every step of its production and implementation. They’ve gotten these high-tech devices funded, designed, and developed. And they’ve spearheaded the political lobbying that has resulted in this assistive equipment being covered by Medicare.
Blair Casey is Team Gleason’s Chief Impact Officer. Among other responsibilities, Blair heads up the division of the organization that finds the people and the money to fund and build this technology.
There’s another kind of real-world tech I want to tell you about. This one takes the Virtual Reality most of us associate with gaming, and turns it into a product with a profound application. The product is called Stratus. It’s developed and built by a Virtual Reality company here in New Orleans, called Kinemagic.
I’m far from an expert on any of this, but broadly, this kind of Virtual Reality is built by creating what’s called a “Digital Twin” – an exact, detailed digital re-creation of a 3D space, say, the room you’re in right now. If you think about writing computer code that represents every single tiny facet of that space, viewed from every imaginable angle, you can understand why this process takes an enormous amount of computing power, time, and human input.
What Kinemagic’s product, Stratus, does, is create a Virtual Reality digital twin in a matter of minutes. And it’s done by one person. This is revolutionary. Which is why Stratus, which was only unveiled in 2019, is already being used by companies like Chevron, Shell, Exxon Mobil, and many others.
The creator of Stratus and the CEO and founder of Kinemagic is Brian Lozes.
Most of us take our business, our career, or our job seriously. But, mostly, we manage to keep things in perspective by reminding ourselves that, at the end of the day it’s just a job. We’re not changing the course of human history.
And then there are people like Blair Casey and Brian Lozes. The work they’re doing is allowing people with neuro-degenerative disease to regain the power of speech. And revolutionizing Virtual Reality. When they’re having a tough day, they don’t have the benefit of shrugging it off by telling themselves what they’re doing isn’t all that consequential, because, simply, it is.