AIRA – Initial thoughts

Hello Everyone,

I have been testing AIRA which is a company that will provide sighted assistance through their app as well as glasses with a camera. The people who are answering the calls from people who are blind or partially sighted have gotten a great deal of training and are able to describe what is around you and answer questions, as well as help you navigate to a destination describing things that you are passing and giving you information that you are looking for.

I am just using the app right now and have had a chance now to test it in a few different scenarios in my home as well as out an about in my neighbourhood, as well as travelling for work.

My first time using AIRA it was great I was able to talk to the agent and go through the set up and she gave me a really good overview of what they could do for me and demonstrated how I was going to need to use my phone with the app to get the most out of the service.

Now I have been able to test it out with calling and getting the cooking instructions on food items as well as reading recipes in a recipe book. I have also called and asked for help with the colour of clothing and different things in my home while doing laundry and trying to sort the kids clothes. They were able to answer all my questions and they described things beautifully. When I asked them what colour something was they gave me an answer like a dark purple where as when I ask my husband he says something like “I dunno it is kind of purplish I think”. They were also great at describing patterns.

This has been so helpful in not having to ask my kids or FaceTime my husband. But what I really like about it is that I can ask what I need to know. With some of the other services out there it will tell you purple shirt but maybe I want to know the size of that item of the fabric or maybe the washing instructions and these are things that they are able to help with.

One of the things that I tried with the app was going to the grocery store, I needed a few things and wanted to see how they would be able to navigate me around a super market that they themselves had never actually been in. And we all know that grocery stores are all very different and forever changing. What I found out was that they did a great job of helping me to navigate around the store and we found the items that I was looking for, and then the cash register. It was nice not to have to find someone in the store to help me, no one else knew what I was doing so I was just another shopper getting a few things before heading home after work. It felt amazing. The one downside to using the app the way I have been especially when grocery shopping is that you have to be holding the phone at your chest and then you have a cane or guide dog in the other hand so holding the things you are looking for can be a balancing act. ( I will be testing the glasses they just arrived (very excited) so keep an eye out for that).

Navigating a unfamiliar city when travelling for work can be a little daunting and after a long day sometimes you don’t have the mental energy to deal with it. I was able to use the app in a city I was in for work and it was great. I found a place online that was close to the hotel and they navigated me there with zero problems and then asked if I wanted them to read me the menu or look up any specials. There was not frustration or searching involved it was amazing. Here is the video of that exact situation that I just described. Aira Video.

So far my experience with the AIRA app has been great, I am happy to finally have the glasses as that is the one disappointing thing. It did take two months to actually get the glasses. Now that they are here though I will be doing much more testing.

Until Next Time,

Ashley