The University of California San Diego is now the first Aira-enabled university in the United States, according to UCSD News. Aira is a San Diego-based startup that helps people who are blind or have low vision get real-time visual descriptions using wearable technology and AI.
Aira allows blind individuals to connect with a network of human agents via smart glasses and smart phones. The agents are then able to see the person’s environment in real time.
With the tap of a button, Aira connects a blind or low vision individuals with a professional Aira agent who can offer virtual assistance at anytime and anywhere. The agent can help individuals navigate busy streets, recognize faces, help with reading homework and more. The technology can be accessed through any camera-enabled iOS or Android device using the app. It is then paired with the smart glasses provided by Aira as part of a subscription.
Jimmy Cong, a visually impaired student at UC San Diego, used Aira as a beta-tester for the technology. Thus far the technology has helped him travel around campus, see the touch screen on the microwave and helped with assignments.
“If a professor sends me a document at 4:30 p.m. and the Office for Students with Disabilities is closing soon, what do I do? I can send the PDF to the Aira agent and they can either type it all out, or I just ask them to read it and I take notes on my end,” says Cong. “Aira is basically like a friend with you 24-7. Aira makes it possible for me to regularly participate in class with the other students. That’s the biggest thing.”