Sendero Transfers iOS Mobile Technology To Aira, Mike May Joins Aira Advisory Board

November 14th, 2018

Aira and Sendero Group logos

SAN DIEGO November 14, 2018 Aira is pleased to announce that it has acquired Sendero’s iOS mobile navigation products and technology. In conjunction with this exciting boost to Aira’s technological portfolio, Mike May, Co-founder of Sendero (and now with Envision Inc.), will also be joining Aira’s Advisory Board to offer guidance as Aira expands its independent navigational efforts.

Mike May says, “Charles LaPierre and I founded Sendero in 1999 to provide ourselves and all blind people independent access to location information. The challenge to do that is as relevant today as it was 19 years ago. Accessible GPS in conjunction with Aira and its AI assistant, Chloe, provide a synergistic solution to full navigation access.”

Aira’s mission is to provide objective visual information to anyone, anywhere, at any time, and a key part of achieving that mission centers around making Aira’s service as accurate and detailed as possible with regards to location tracking and navigation. Sendero’s technology brings this enhanced autonomy to the table – and we have no doubt that this will improve the user experience as a result.

“As a longtime user of the Sendero GPS technology, from using it on my BrailleNote back in 2003, with a physically connected GPS receiver via a serial cable, to today on a smartphone, Sendero’s commitment to accurate and relevant information for the blind or low-vision traveler remains constant. The mission to deliver instant access to navigational information any time, anywhere is directly in line with Aira’s mission, and we are so excited to complement our existing Aira offering with Sendero’s autonomous mobile GPS tool,” says Greg Stilson, Director of Product Management at Aira.

Members of the Sendero team are joining Aira to assist with the technology transition and existing app maintenance, as well as to contribute to the long-term goal of integrating the Sendero GPS capability into Aira’s AI efforts.

Further details on the transition and future product developments will be forthcoming. All Sendero mobile apps will continue to function the way you expect, with continued updates already underway based on existing feedback captured by Sendero. All support inquiries can be directed to iphone@senderogroup.com.

As part of the Sendero transfers, the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco will take over the Sendero Maps and note-taker-based GPS product offerings.

Sendero CTO, Charles LaPierre says, “I am thrilled that Sendero Maps and GPS products will continue under the stewardship of Aira and the Lighthouse. In 1993, when I developed the first accessible GPS back-pack prototype weighing 10 pounds, I said ‘in 10 years it will be the size of a Sony Walkman(TM), which will fit in your hand’.  I am honored that my university project 25 years ago evolved into the ‘Swiss Army knife of life’ smartphone version of today.”

About Aira

Aira is a service that uses artificial intelligence and augmented reality to connect blind and low-vision people to highly trained, remotely-located agents. At the touch of a button, Aira delivers instant access to information, enhancing everyday efficiency, engagement, and independence.

To learn more, visit aira.io.

About Sendero Group

Developers of the first accessible GPS and talking map software. GPS products “Powered by Sendero” software provide access to detailed street and business location information. Sendero staff, most of whom are visually impaired, know from personal and professional experience that orientation and mobility skills and tools for blind folks are key to enjoyment and success in all walks of life.

To learn more, visit senderogroup.com.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Sendero great?

  • Significant information provided in the background. Without needing to interact with the smartphone, the user can receive a large amount of information.  
  • Custom intersection descriptions. “Approaching a four-way intersection with Main St. left and right. Now approaching a three-way intersection with University Ave crossing  Main St. on your right.”
  • Instant “Where Am I?” feedback when you shake the phone. With one shake you get your current nearest address, the street you’re on, the cardinal direction you’re facing, and the nearest intersection.
  • In-app routing engine for pedestrian and vehicle routes. Most other iOS apps have some of the “What’s around”, features but lack an in-app routing engine, thus pushing users to Google or Apple maps for any routing needs.  
  • A feature for custom route creation. Basically, while the user is walking, virtual breadcrumbs are dropped allowing the user to follow that custom route again later.  Great for open area travel in parking lots or hiking.
  • Creation of personal points of interest. Users can drop personal points of interest either on the street or anywhere in an open area. Great for marking landmarks while hiking or just exploring off the beaten path.  
  • Extremely impressive “Getting warmer” routing engine where the destination serves as a homing beacon for the explorer to get near to it. Great for open area travel. The system uses the clock face directions to guide them to the destination as the distance reduces.
  • And much more.

Why did Aira acquire Sendero’s mobile GPS technology?

Aira’s mission is to provide instant access to information, anytime and anywhere. This information can be in the form of visual information around you, provided by a trained human agent, or information about your surroundings delivered by a custom automated GPS tool. Both provide information and are not mutually exclusive. As GPS technology has come a long way over the years, there are still gaps in using such technology to assist in navigating you to the entrance of your destination. Often, it will get you close to your goal, but it is often that last 50 feet to find the correct entrance or door which can be a challenge. This particular scenario is where the two technologies complement each other. Sendero’s mobile GPS technology will be part of Aira’s AI during navigation tasks. Combined with our highly-trained live agents, Aira Explorers will have the most robust access to information available today.

I have a subscription to one of Sendero’s mobile GPS apps, or I purchased the SeeingEye GPS XT app outright, what is happening with my apps?

Nothing will be changing with your experience. Aira and Sendero are working together to smoothly transition the technology over so your user experience will not be affected. Also, Aira has taken over the development of updating the Sendero Mobile GPS apps and have retained Sendero’s existing mobile app developers. We are excited to be releasing an app update in the future, containing some long-awaited app features.

What is Aira’s long-term vision for the GPS technology?

As the AI landscape is rapidly changing, one thing that will always be necessary is access to relevant, accurate information while a blind or low-vision person navigates their environment. We see Sendero’s high quality mobile software potentially playing a significant role in Aira’s AI solutions in the future.

Are Sendero’s mobile GPS apps available for Android?

No, currently these apps are only available on iOS.

Where can I download the Sendero mobile GPS apps?

You can download the Sendero mobile GPS apps from: SeeingEye GPS North America:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seeing-eye-gps/id668624446?mt=8# Guide Dogs NSW Australia: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/guide-dogs-nsw-act/id1023913373?ls=1&mt=8 RNIB Navigator UK: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/rnib-navigator/id783866151?mt=8

Where can I learn more about Sendero and Aira?

Visit www.senderogroup.com or learn more about Aira and Sendero at www.aira.io.