Friday, 18 May 2018 14:01

VIDEO: AT&T and Aira agree globally to 'unlock IoT for good', helping accessibility reach new levels


The world's "fastest growing assistive technology platform" Aira has announced global expansion with AT&T's help on "Global Accessibility Awareness Day".

Aira. First launched in 2014, the company bills itself as "today’s fastest growing assistive community", and uses a combination of "augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and highly-trained, professional agents to provide instant access to visual information".

Indeed, at "just the touch of a button" Aira proudly boasts of delivering "remote visual assistance — anytime and anywhere — that enables those who are blind and low vision to be more efficient with any, and every, task they undertake".

It sounds like a wonderfully transformative technology for people needing such assistance, and the company's announcement with AT&T to expand the US service to Australia, Canada and the UK comes on Global Accessibility Awareness Day, with 17 May the 7th anniversary of the event.

We're told that "the purpose of GAAD is to get everyone talking, thinking, and learning about digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities", with the question asked: "What better way to do that than with technology that empowers blind and low vision individuals?"

Suman Kanuganti, chief executive of Aira, said: "We chose GAAD to make this announcement because bringing accessibility to everyone forms the very core of Aira’s mission.

"Working with AT&T to make our service available around the globe is the next step in using this technology to improve daily lives.”

The service launched in Australia on 11 May, with Vision Australia writing up the announcement at its website, here.

Aira and AT&T provide some stats, noting the World Health Organisation's estimates that "253 million people live with impaired vision", and how for over a year, "AT&T and Aira have worked together in the US to help many of the blind and those with low vision complete daily tasks more easily".

Aira says its connected glasses "have also assisted with new challenges like starting college, running the Boston Marathon, and even experiencing the solar eclipse. Now, people around the world who are blind or have low vision can use smart glasses to access public transportation, navigate busy streets, shop in stores or recognise people, without another person to physically accompany them. It opens up a world of possibilities".

The AT&T global network connects Aira’s smart glasses, worn by blind and low vision users known as “Explorers”, to trained, professional agents.

Agents use "a built-for-purpose dashboard" that provides details such as the Explorer’s location and profile, in combination with a secure, near real-time stream of video. At the tap of a button, this information is provided to Explorers so they can perform almost any task.

Chris Penrose, president of IoT at AT&T said: "The combination of Aira’s groundbreaking assistive technology and our highly secure global wireless connectivity helps the user ‘see’ the world around them.

“That world just got bigger. This global expansion can bring the Aira platform to millions of individuals who can benefit from this service.”

Here's Aira's video on how its service works:



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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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