Aira Ends Support for Horizon

March 2nd, 2020

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As we roll into March, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for being an indispensable part of the Aira community and providing us with the necessary feedback to continue improving the Aira experience. After recently celebrating our five-year anniversary, it’s an exciting time for this company that is relentlessly focused on making the world accessible for the blind and low vision community. As a company, we gathered to reflect on the journey and wanted to say thank you again to all of our Explorers for pushing us and the service to its limits. Please keep doing that as it helps us understand what parts of the service don’t meet the high bar known as the Aira standard. We also want to thank our Access partners like Bank of America, AT&T, Wegmans for their continued support and commitment to the mission. We welcome new partners like Target and Milwaukee County Transit that have recently joined. The Aira Access Network now has over 50,000+ locations.

In 2020, Aira will continue to operate our 24-hour service in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. We look forward to expanding to more countries and provide instant access to information for anyone that needs it.

Like many startups similar to the size of Aira’s, applying our technical resources is critical for success. While Explorer’s feedback about the Aira service with the mobile Aira App, phone-only, the experience remains outstanding, our Smart Glasses experience, such as our Horizon hardware, has been met with a mix of reviews. As I dug further into the feedback and the state of the technology I asked myself if we are meeting the Aira standard. I quickly learned that we were simply not and a change is needed.

Here’s what I found:

  1. The current Horizon Android smartphone no longer accommodates regular Horizon application updates so that means our Aira tech team does not have much control to improve the experience.
  2. The model of smartphone that supports the Horizon system has been discontinued by Samsung so we must move on and find a new option.
  3. As smartphones, like the latest iPhone, have transitioned away from physical buttons, finding a device to support a one-button access interface is a significant challenge.

So what does that mean?  It means that Aira’s smart glasses hardware solution is not meeting the Aira standard today and furthermore the Explorer experience with Horizon will continue to decline.  Simply put, we need to find a new solution that better meets the demands of our Explorer community. With that, and after considerable analysis, I have decided that beginning on April 1, Aira will no longer support calls made from Horizon smart glasses.  This change will allow our technical team to refocus on improving the core service. Below is a FAQ section if you want to learn more.

So the next question is naturally: If Horizon doesn’t meet the Aira standard, what will?  We are aligning our hardware strategy with the mainstream devices that you all already use such as an iPhone, Android Smartphone and some new and emerging platforms.   We would appreciate your help by sharing your thoughts on new devices and platforms, products and technologies that we should consider integrating into the Aira Explorer experience.  Send them to support@aira.io and Customer Care will gather a list of potential smart glasses or other devices to utilize in our future. 

Aira was founded on the idea of both creating and leveraging leading technology to bring you the Explorer a modern, useful and one-of-a-kind experience.   Our passion for creating the leading experience has never been stronger.

Thank you for your continued support of Aira. Aira agents look forward to connecting with you soon.

We wouldn’t be here without you,
Troy
CEO of Aira

FAQ

When is the last day I can use Horizon Glasses? Tuesday, Mar 31st, 11:59 pm PST.

Should I ship back my Horizon glasses and controller? No, you can keep the hardware.

I don’t have a smartphone. Can I keep this and use it as a smartphone? Yes, you can use the Horizon controller as a smartphone. You will need to factory reset the device and from there you connect it to a network provider or use it on wi-fi only; you can download and login to the Aira app and make calls.

If the controller isn’t accepting updates, why should I keep this Android phone? The Horizon app is no longer able to receive updates, the phone itself is still very usable and able to receive Android updates.

I bought Horizon outright, can I get a refund? If you bought and paid for the Horizon kit for $600, customer care will be contacting you to process a refund.

If I am on the $25 per month payment plan for Horizon, can I get a refund? No, we are not issuing refunds and your last payment of $25 will be on X so there are no additional charges or payments required.

Can I use the phone as a regular smartphone? Yes, the phone will be factory reset on April 1st, and customers may plug in a new SIM card and use it immediately.

Can you recommend a lanyard? Yes, the most recommended lanyard by Explorers comes from the Harbolt company for $25. You can also find multiple options on Amazon and learn more about Harbolt lanyards here.

Where do I submit feedback for a potential Horizon Glasses replacement? Email Customer Care at support@aira.io or give them a call, they are compiling a list of recommendations.

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