Now that artificial intelligence can do everything from generating a painting of Ronald McDonald as the Mona Lisa to passing the BAR exam, the internet won’t stop talking about DALL-E and ChatGPT. But the machine learning revolution extends beyond OpenAI, and Looria is proof of that.
While the AI-powered product reviews site has flown under the radar since its founding in 2021, Looria has the potential to compete with industry giants like Consumer Reports. That’s because the Zurich-based company approaches reviews much like a discerning consumer would: Using artificial intelligence, it's able to comb through conventional product reviews, Amazon reviews, blog posts, YouTube videos, Reddit comments, and more to rank blenders, air purifiers, and other popular (and sometimes niche) products.
In other words, it’s much like aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, except it pulls large swaths of data from disparate sources.
While that might sound a bit janky — who trusts Amazon reviews these days? — co-founder Tavis Lochhead tells Cheapism that Looria uses “its own in-house technology to score reviews based on trustworthiness,” privileging some sources over others.
“It’s not bulletproof, but it helps surface higher quality reviews,” Lochhead explains.
What’s particularly intriguing about Looria is that Reddit is one of its main inputs, in part because Looria argues that comments from random product enthusiasts are more “authentic.”
Looria's Unique Pitch
Whereas Wirecutter and Consumer Reports ultimately have to turn a profit and worry about ranking on Google, enthusiasts on Reddit are simply interested in showing off their knowledge to earn upvotes. “The whole karma system helps with trustworthiness,” Looria’s FAQ section reads. There’s certainly truth to that, as many searchers already append “Reddit” to their Google queries to find authentic content.
Which is Looria’s central pitch: transparent, authentic, trustworthy reviews “over commercial interest.” (Looria earns commissions through affiliate links.)
Of course, the downside with an AI-based aggregator like Looria is that you don’t get detailed, contextualized reviews vetted by real people — at least not yet. Instead, Looria simply assigns products a letter grade and a bulleted list of pros and cons, though Lochhead admits that his site is a “complement” to and not a replacement for Consumer Reports.
“Our value is providing broader perspectives for a larger scope of products. CR’s intensive review process limits them from reviewing every product. Our technology allows us to go more broadly,” Lochhead adds.
Looria’s scope is quite large. There are product reviews for techies, home chefs, coffee enthusiasts, and even rock climbers. And as someone who identifies with those latter two interests, I was curious to see what Looria would recommend.
For coffee grinders, the selection was just OK. While some grinders that Looria recommended — namely the Baratza Virtuoso, Timemore C2, and 1Zpresso J-Max — made sense, other choices were questionable. For example, the Krups F203 blade grinder landed in fourth place with an “A” grade, a dubious rating given that blade grinders don’t produce a uniform, high-quality grind.
As for climbing shoes, the list was even worse. In its “Best for Most” category, Looria chose La Sportiva’s Miura VS, an aggressive shoe that mostly caters to advanced climbers. And rather than selecting La Sportiva’s Tarantulace as the “Budget Pick” — a cheap, go-to shoe for beginners — Looria settled on the Evolv Venga, which is cheap because, well, it’s a kids’ shoe.
“We use the best-in-class technology available, but it is far from perfect,” Lochhead explains. “We also are only as good as the data available online. Products like electronics have lots of reviews. Niche products have much less.”
The Future of Looria
Like OpenAI, Looria is sure to improve and expand its offerings. In fact, the company is already trying a novel approach to product reviews by “training” a chatbot on data from subreddits like r/BuyItForLife. You can ask a question like: What’s the best buy-it-for-life sock, and within seconds, you’ll have a few good recommendations.
Will Looria’s tools replace CNET, Wirecutter, or Consumer Reports? Probably not. But for savvy consumers looking for a quick way to compare products and make sense of a sea of data, Looria hits the mark.
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