This post is referred to in my new book:
When You Can’t Believe Your eyes, Chapter 10, section: “where to shop.”
by DeAnn Elliott with additional information from Hannah.
Aira is a big name in AI apps for people with vision loss. It’s a subscription service but with some free assistance too.
Their agents use your smartphone (or smart glasses) camera to help you with finding the right button on an appliance, or the right platform at a bus station, and much more.
Aira (artificial intelligence remote access) has an app. After you download it onto your phone, you tap the button to connect to an agent.” This is now free for the first 5 minutes of a call. For More time you will need a subscription. Check the end of this post for details.
DeAnn began using AIRA last year. Here is her report after a few months:
“The helper person is called an agent. I’ve never asked for a particular agent. The quality is pretty consistently good. I think if you want art described, or if you have a project where you prefer a male or female agent, you can request it. Not super cheap though! The cost is about $100 per month, so out of reach for some people, but hopefully the price will come down.”
“I’ve used it to identify suitcases at an airport when the bags came off the carousel. The agent could see the color of my suitcase and read my name tag. An agent can help navigate an inaccessible website, or locate settings on an appliance. She or he can help me make sure I’m actually standing at a bus stop.”
“When I lost my volunteer reader at home an agent helped me go through a huge pile of mail to identify what was junk and what needed my attention. She could have helped me process the new mail too!”
“I like two things about the service in particular. First, it lessens the interpersonal distortion that comes with dependency. It’s like having a little person in your pocket. You can use their services without feeling like you’re interrupting or imposing on someone. There’s no need to time or ration my requests. When they’ve served their purpose, I can push a button and put them back in my pocket. In my relationships with friends and family, I feel less inclined to ‘go along to get along’ because I have options and I’m not as dependent on them for something. It’s liberating, and improves the dynamic in my other relationships.”
“The second thing I like is the knowledge that there’s a “plan B” if I get myself into trouble. I recently went on a cross-country trip to attend a conference and visit my daughter. I traveled alone, which was a bit out of my comfort zone. I don’t know if I would have done it without the smart glasses. With Aira, I relied almost entirely on my other blind skills, and when I got stuck, there was immediate assistance, even if no one was around to ask. “An agent helped me locate the restroom in a hotel. Another walked me through a busy train station to buy a ticket and get me situated on the right track. The number of minutes I used was actually quite small, but knowing that I could call gave me the confidence to take on bigger risks.”
“ I use it a bit like a safety net. Some months, I don’t even use all the minutes I’m allotted, but part of the value is knowing that I can…”
Details: Name of App: AIRA Information on demand
Calls on the AIRA app are free for 5 minutes.
Intro subscription: $29 per month for 30 minutes
Standard subscription: $99 for 120 minutes, or $124 for the addition of rechargeable smart glasses called the Horizon Kit. The camera is in the center of the smart glasses, so the phone can be round your neck, or in a top pocket with ear buds or any pocket with blue tooth.
AIRA also works on Google glass and Austria smart glasses.