At No Barriers Summit: Aira is Showcased as the Novel Technology Service That Helps the Blind Become Even More ‘Adventurous’
People have the inner resources to become anything they want to be. Challenge just becomes the vehicle for tapping into those inner resources. — Erik Weihenmayer, Co-Founder and Board Vice President, No Barriers USA
Showing people how to rise above the adversities they face is the purpose of the No Barriers movement, and at the No Barriers 2016 Summit held recently in Copper Mountain, CO, Aira was proud to participate with other innovators around the country to demonstrate how technology and other services can help those with special challenges to further explore their world like never before.
¨It was a great experience, and Aira was showcased as the novel technology introduced at the summit,¨ says Suman Kanuganti, Aira Co-Founder & CEO, whose introductory speech on Aira at the event (which began with him walking on stage blindfolded while being navigated remotely by an Aira Agent) was a big hit. ¨Soon enough, the entire summit knew about us and approached us to know more,¨ he says with a smile.
The summit featured some of the most creative and innovative technologies, products and services — all to help people with disabilities and other challenges through adaptive and physically stimulating activities in such areas as sports, adventure, art and education.
¨In the spirit of No Barriers,¨ says Suman, ¨Aira was delighted to show how its technology can be a viable resource for the blind and visually impaired to use in expanding into a whole new world of adventures, including hiking, rock climbing, marathon running, exploring art and literally traveling the globe.¨
Aira´s presence at No Barriers also included an interactive exhibit booth that highlighted Aira´s cutting edge technology and services. In addition, Aira Agent, Erin Cater conducted 12 successful on-site beta trials with new users. Feedback from these blind and visually impaired participants was overwhelmingly positive about the potential of Aira to improve their mobility and quality of life. ¨ The No Barriers Summit was very inspiring,¨ said Erin. ¨Sharing what Aira has to offer and serving as Agent for the users during their trials was really rewarding, including getting to hear their responses first-hand as they realize how life changing Aira can be.¨
Jessica, a beta trial participant at the summit, was among the first-time users who found Aira to be a potential game changer in her life. ¨I loved the Aira experience, especially being able to get immediate descriptions from a live agent about what was around me,¨ she said.¨ Since this information is given in real time without technical delay, I can envision using Aira as a guide during my trail and road running activities, helping me in such things as keeping away from objects and to giving me live information that keeps me on pace during my 20-minute mile, or 9-minute mile runs.¨
Kevan, another new user at the No Barriers event, commented: ¨I travel a lot, so even though I already have pretty good orientation and mobility skills, Aira would be great in assisting me with such things as getting in the back of the line at the airport without disturbing people, locating departure gates quickly, checking the overhead schedule board for status of flights, locating good restaurants between flights and reading menus. Honestly, I would not even know how many other ways I would use Aira until I began using it!¨
Other Comments From Attendees After Using Aira for First Time
Here are just a few additional impressions from visually impaired attendees after using Aira at No Barriers: ¨I can now choose the clothes I want while shopping without someone else choosing for me!¨ …¨I am unbreakable!¨… ¨I want to be adventurous with Aira!¨…There is no such thing as disability — it’s just different ability.¨….¨Empowerment — I can get addicted to it!¨
The summit also gave Aira the opportunity to reconnect in meaningful ways with Erik Weihenmayer, Co-Founder of No Barriers and a member the Aira User Advisory Board. Blind since age 13, Erik captured world headlines in 2001 when he became the first blind climber in history to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. In 2005, to inspire others to overcome their obstacles, he launched No Barriers.
Erik’s been involved in shaping Aira’s vision from its infant stage to date. At the summit, Erik, connected via the Aira platform system to Agent, Erin Cater, got to try out the Aira service by taking a casual walk around the event, which he enjoyed a lot. As several people walked towards him to say hello, Erin described and identified who they were to him. This allowed Erik to interact easily with them, including handshakes, conversing, and even complimenting them on their attire.
Erik, who called Aira´s technology ¨an epic leap to independence if you are blind or visually impaired,¨ had this to say about Aira´s participation at No Barriers: “We were so honored to have Aira present at the No Barriers Summit. Aira’s cutting-edge technology, combined with human interface, has opened up amazing opportunities for blind people like myself. When I tested it at the Summit, I walked around Copper Mountain and interacted with my surroundings in a brand-new way. I experienced the displays at Innovation Village and the crowd with depth and nuance I haven’t experienced since having sight. The Aira smart glasses filled in incredible details, from the clothes people were wearing to the beauty of a fountain, to signs and landmarks that helped me navigate. This contributed to a fuller, richer experience. I can’t wait to push the envelope of the technology and see the new places I can go with it.”
Below are other memorable scenes from Aira´s participation at No Barriers 2016: