Aira Names Matt Brock, Joshua Miele and Michael Hingson to Its User Advisory Board

Aira has named three noted professionals to its User Advisory Board. The new members, each visually impaired, will help guide Aira’s mission in developing personalized, user-friendly services and technology that enhance the independence and mobility of blind and low-vision individuals.

Appointed were: Communication expert Matt Brock; Joshua Miele, Ph.D., a noted scientist specializing in developing assistive computer devices; and best-selling author and international lecturer Michael Hingson (who first became widely known for surviving the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center with the help of his guide dog Roselle).

Matt Brock
Matt Brock

As board members, the three professionals will be especially instrumental in informing and engaging the visually impaired community and the public about Aira products, in addition to serving as Aira product users in testing and giving feedback on Aira technology before such services are officially made available to the public.

¨We are extremely fortunate to have the guidance and expertise of Matt, Joshua and Michael,¨ says Aira Founder, Suman Kanuganti, ¨especially at this pivotal stage when Aira is emerging as a leader in developing cutting-edge assistive technology and services for blind and low-vision people.¨

Brock has been with Aira since the company began, serving as a beta tester (or product user) and providing valuable feedback, all which has helped Aira shape its product and technology, Kanuganti continues. ¨We value his guidance and background in communication/audio engineering as we move forward in developing our technology.¨

Legally blind from Retinal Pigmentosa since 2006, Brock, who holds a degree in Communication from San Jose State University, helped Aira (as a product user) to create KastEye, a platform application that is available on Google Glass which helps Aira agents provide greater personalized and detailed visual interpretation and navigation assistance for users.

Dr. Miele is a scientist at the noted Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute in San Francisco where he specializes in developing innovative computer-based technology that helps the blind access information more quickly and efficiently in such venues as education, employment, entertainment and transportation. His achievements include helping to spearhead Smith-Kettlewell’s award-winning work in developing video accessibility for the blind — a project that resulted in YouDescribe — a free web site which allows anyone, anywhere, to describe any YouTube video and share that description with the world.

Dr. Miele’s background as a scientist, as well as a visually impaired person with extensive experience using accessible technologies, will enhance Aira’s capability in developing assistive computer devices that allow blind and low-vision users to access information more efficiently. Dr. Miele holds a Ph.D. in Psychoacoustics from the University of California at Berkeley, where he also earned his Bachelor’s degree in Physics. He is also a member of Aira’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Michael Hingson and his guide dog.
Michael Hingson and his guide dog.

Hingson, blind since birth, became internationally known in 2001 after his trusted guide dog Roselle and he successfully escaped while also helping many others to safety on 9/11 after they became trapped on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center when the building was hit by hijacked American Airlines Flight 11. Although Roselle died 10 years later at the age of 13, the brave golden labrador was immortalized by Hingson in the New York Times best-seller that he co-authored entitled Thunder Dog: The Story of a Blind Man, a Guide Dog and the Triumph of Trust.

Hingson has also gone on to become widely recognized as an advocate for blind and disabled people through his involvement with the National Federation of the Blind. In addition, he is a recognized authority on assistive technology for persons with disabilities , and an in-demand international speaker and lecture, captivating audiences with his personal story about Roselle, and his insights as a blind professional on such topics as leadership, teamwork, trust and survival and Inclusion. His expertise and experience will help Aira in developing services and technology that assist users in orientation and mobility. Through his 30 years as a sales professional and sales manager, Hingson will also greatly enhance Aira’s efforts to spread the Aira story and get the product into the hands of many users. He holds a Master’s degree in Physics from UC Irvine, and earned his secondary teaching credential from UC Irvine’s School of Teaching and Education.

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