Aira — A Service Walkthrough Highlighting the Technology and Reliability of Our Product

December 11th, 2014

On our website and in previous blog posts, we’ve shared information about Aira, our flagship assistive technology service that is designed to help blind and low-vision users gain independence in everyday activities. Now, let’s go a little deeper and walk through the entire Aira experience, highlighting the technology and reliability of our product services and platform in assisting visually impaired users to live independently and lead normal lives like the rest of us.

How Aira Works
The Aira platform allows our agents to serve as visual interpreters and navigators for the visually impaired by using real-time interactive cloud-based dashboard technology to process live data streams from cameras, GPS, and other sensor systems, including users’ wearable platforms such as Google Glass and Vuzix.

For example: A blind or visually impaired user puts on his/her Google Glass and gently taps three times to engage the system. This immediately connects them to a certified/trained Aira agent assigned specifically to them. (Before our agents are paired with users, we ensure that agents are not only thoroughly trained and pre-screened by us, but that the agent is someone the user has become acquainted with and trusts.)

The Agent Dashboard: The Heart of Aira’s Platform
Our agents’ sophisticated intelligent “mission control-like” dashboard is equipped with the tools they need to assist users with everyday tasks they need to assist users with everyday tasks. You can catch a glimpse of the dashboard and agent experience in our previous post.

The dashboard integrates multiple data sources, giving the agent with the following data feeds in real time : the current view from the user’s wearable device such as Google Glass, the user’s location, traffic conditions, and points of interest at the location. In addition, the dashboard gives agents access to more personalized information of users, including their medical history, things that they enjoy doing, places they like to visit, and emergency contacts, such those for family members, personal physician and personal assistants.

Helping Users With Everything From Facial Recognition to Navigating City Streets
Quick and timely access to users’ assistive information allows Aira agents to serve effectively as visual interpreters and navigators for them, greatly enhancing users’ independence in everyday activities. This includes assisting users with: identifying faces in crowds; discerning the facial expressions of people during conversation; navigating city streets and intersections; assisting with dining, shopping and transportation; and color coordination when dressing.

Aira’s Reliable Safety Features
The safety of our users is paramount to us and we have invested a lot of our resources to ensure system reliability and performance. These features include:

— A Reliable, Robust API Platform — Our API platform, electronic equipment, system protocols, agent training and user acclimatization are designed to make user safety a top priority.

— Continuous System Monitoring — The system has automatic algorithms to assess new data and situations. For example, the system is constantly monitoring for sound, video input, and database feed. When new safety systems and wearable devices are available, our platform is built to incorporate them and remain at the leading edge of safety.

— Backup Mechanism for Technical Failure — Aira has mechanisms to handle contingent situations like device or technical failure. In such cases, Aira agents will be able to make calls on behalf of the user, request taxi service from reliable service providers or follow user-specific contingency plans.

— Data Stored When Network is Lost — Even when network coverage is lost, Aira continues to store user location locally on the wearable device. Once network connection is regained, their location history is updated on the server enabling the Agent to pinpoint current user location.

— Slow Network Issues Resolved — Aira has taken into account and solved latency issues (slow network) for when there is limited network bandwidth such as in crowded or remote areas.

Our amazing team behind the system’s API platform have also come up with a novel method of communication between user and agent when ambient conditions are not perfect. For instance, when agents are providing precise and accurate guidance in a noisy area, the majority of the communications between an Aira agent and the user can be done via preset tones and clicks. The Aira team worked extensively with blind users and sound engineers to identify the best frequency and tones to enable communication. Note: This system is so unique that we have filed a patent on “tonal alerts”. Our API platform is built with the future of innovation in mind!

Other Plans in Progress at Aira
We already have plans to leverage indoor location-based systems such as iBeacon or Google Indoor Maps in the future when these technologies are mature. Our platform will be open to external developers, allowing them to expand and adapt it to most of the industry’s wearable technologies. This means Aira as a system can incorporate information from other wearables, cameras, proximity sensors, infrared canes and other sensors to provide complete solution to the users.

A Few Final Words About Our Aira Agents and Training

Building a robust system is just one-half of our service commitment. The other half involves the quality of our Aira agents, which is why we wish to say a few more words about these professionals and the role they play in providing unparalleled customer support, assistance and companionship to our users. In addition to being thoroughly screened, our agents undergo a comprehensive three-step training program. Each agent is trained by experienced Aira team members on the effective use of Agent Dashboard and are then instructed on various emergency protocols. They also have access to ¨Aira Phraseology¨ which was developed to help deliver timely, clear and concise information.

After this training, our agents are then paired up with visually impaired users to get acquainted with their needs and to work with them on supervised tasks for a brief period. This gives both the agent and blind user an opportunity to get to know each other and assess compatibility. Once the agent builds trust and the user is comfortable with the guidance received, the agent will transition to guiding them independently with their tasks. This added engagement process helps our users get familiar with our system, allowing them to confidently employ Aira to improve their everyday life.

If you have questions about Aira — including how to sign up as an Aira user or agent — contact us today!