Being visually impaired can slow your down, but Aira’s remarkable technology employs “smart glasses” to scan one’s environment. This finally brings help for blind entrepreneurs
This aids blind or vision impaired users to handle a wide range of important tasks. At last, help for blind entrepreneurs!
This technology has certainly helped brother Bryan and Bradford Manning, afflicted with Stargardt Disease. The disease leaves their peripheral vision largely clear, but attacks the center of the eye, leaving it very blurry.
The Manning’s brothers have been living with this since their diagnoses at the age of 7.
As you might expect, vision impairment creates a number of challenges.
Though the challenges did not prevent the brothers from launching “Two Blind Brothers“, a New York City-based apparel manufacturer that donates net profits to retinal research.
Looking at fabrics, most folks can easily tell what color they are, but for the brothers, it’s not such a simple task.
“It’s things like, is the label on this shirt correct? Are the notecards we put in the boxes correctly? Is the bank statement we got in the mail correct? Those details are the toughest thing for us.” Bradford says.
Aira came into the Mannings brother’s lives about 18 months ago.
Aira is essentially a set of specialized glasses that connect blind or vision impaired people with human agents. The agents then survey the person’s surroundings through these smart glasses or even a smartphone camera allowing real-time help for blind entrepreneurs.
The agent can then assist with a multitude of tasks. They can read the users mail or describe the people in the room, help them navigate a room or hail them an Uber.
The technology is being used to help the visually impaired at over twenty airports, several universities, and retail stores.
Intuit, which is a large financial software company, is making Aira available for free to all entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Ted Drake, Intuit accessibility leader says, “If we can help a blind or low-vision entrepreneur build their business or start a new one, then hopefully that will lead to a lower unemployment rate and better jobs and lives for a lot of people.”
Aira provides users with the ability to deal with technology like banking websites and point of sale systems, which they never had before.
For a vision-impaired person, if they can’t do it themselves they have to hire someone to do it.
Aira allows them to summon an Aira agent; a human beings voice will be able to guide you through the room. The Manning brothers also use zooming in on text with their iPhones but like Aira because “There is a human on the other end. A lot of other tools feel like they put distance between you and the people around you.”
Suman Kanuganti, an Indian born engineer with a master’s degree in robotics and business, created and launched Aira in 2015 after making friends with a vision-impaired person, aiming to bring much-needed help for blind entrepreneurs.
Kanuganti had a vision and developed a camera which was equipped with smart glasses. These glasses connect to a virtual dashboard, allowing human agents to view and describe a user’s environment.
When you summon an Aira agent, typically someone responds within 10 seconds and they can assist the person for the duration of the task at hand.
Kanuganti estimates the average person will have a session lasting 10 minutes.
Kanuganti says, “They can use it for anything, from uploading their receipts to an accounting system to set up an entire brick and mortar shop.”
We know entrepreneurs can work long hours; Aira delivers for blind entrepreneurs some time they may have lost because of their disability.
Aira allows the visually impaired to knock down a few more walls and as a business owner, Aira allows them to manage their own business.
For instance, Aira has helped the Manning brothers donate $200,000 towards retinal research since 2016. Now that is a great outcome from a system that provides help for blind entrepreneurs.
Way to go Manning brothers!
Sonia Rina Landry is a passionate entrepreneur, speaker, author, and personal development coach. She is an outspoken advocate of the free market economy and has helped countless clients identify their core values, envision and realize goals that resonate with those values. She oversees several businesses online and offline.