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Startup uses AT&T wireless to enhance wearables for blind people

Startup Aira is building a technology platform for blind and visually impaired people, blending artificial intelligence, wireless and wearables

US-based startup Aira is to incorporate AT&T wireless connectivity into a new technology platform designed to assist blind and visually impaired people in their daily life.

Aira’s platform – a product of AT&T’s Foundry for Connected Health incubator in Houston, Texas – will mix wearables, connectivity and human-assisted artificial intelligence (AI) to give users accurate information about their surroundings quickly and efficiently.

“We are thrilled to be connected by a global leader like AT&T,” said Aira CEO Suman Kanuganti. “We share a mission-level commitment of leveraging technology to improve quality of life. It is exciting to have the AT&T ecosystem by our side to help our blind and visually impaired users stay connected.”

Currently, the platform uses wearable smart glasses that connect users with human agents who see the wearer’s perspective using close-to-real-time video, and communicate information and instructions back to the wearer.

Aira says the smart glasses can help users to navigate busy streets, use buses and trains, go shopping, or even go mountaineering.

AT&T’s wireless and dynamic traffic management features – which the two firms are showcasing at CES in Las Vegas – act to prioritise video data traffic over the network, which means users have a more predictable experience, particularly during peak times.

“Companies entering AT&T’s Foundry are looking to solve a problem through connectivity,” said Chris Penrose, AT&T’s president of internet of things (IoT) solutions.

Read more about technology for disabled people

“Our provision of wireless connectivity to Aira will bring nearly real-time access and management to its platform. Ultimately, we believe this should improve the experience for the blind and visually impaired.”

Igal Elbaz, ecosystem and innovation vice-president at AT&T, added: “The AT&T Foundry for Connected Health is uniquely positioned to bring together hospitals, doctors, nurses and other caregivers with innovative technology companies and AT&T’s deep connectivity expertise.

“Our mission at the AT&T Foundry is to bring ideas from concept to commercialisation faster than was previously possible. This work with Aira exemplifies that rapid and collaborative innovation model.”

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