By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – The City of Miami Beach is partnering with Aira, an award-winning smartphone app service that assists blind and visually-impaired travelers navigate around their surroundings. Aira connects users with highly trained, remote agents to help aid with city accessibility and exploration.
“One of our top priorities as a city is to ensure a welcoming and inclusive environment for our residents and visitors,” said Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber. “We’re excited to partner with Aira to continue that commitment and grant individuals in our city the freedom and confidence to roam by covering the cost for travel-related inquiries within the urban-island.”
Users in Miami Beach can download the app for free, courtesy of the city. Once connected, users can video call live agents to see what is in front of or near the user. Then, the agent can assist with travel-related questions and concerns such as helping an individual with directions, read signage, use public transportation and more.
“We’re excited to have the City of Miami Beach join the Aira Access Network,” said Suman Kanuganti, Founder and President of Aira. “It’s never been more important to have a service that can accurately describe an environment to blind or low-vision visitors. This is what it means to provide an equal experience, and I commend the city for leading the way.”
Aira offers a Siri-esque artificial intelligence assistant named Chloe. Chloe can help users properly position a single document in the Horizon Phone’s camera view. Then, when she sees all four edges, Chloe will automatically snap a picture and begin reading it aloud. As of now, Chloe can only read single documents.
Aira is available on both iOS and Android, and agents are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Calls under five minutes are free for users. Aira also offers Horizon Smart Glasses, a pair of sunglasses with a camera implanted at the bridge to allow a hands-free experience when video calling.