Greg Stilson Joins Aira As Director Of Product Management
Why Aira? Why Now?
In January 2016 I had the opportunity to try out the Aira Glasses. Being blind myself and being a rather independent person, I was a bit skeptical of the benefits at first. Then I put on the glasses while going through the Chicago O’Hare airport and my skepticism was gone forever.
Typically I found myself waiting for long durations of time while the airlines/ airports found someone to assist me to my gates or baggage claim. If I did not feel like waiting, I would try to go alone and would often rely on semi-correct instructions from other travelers or airport staff. But the process was often frustrating and intense.
With the Aira glasses on, I spoke with Emily, one of Aira’s incredible agents, and my travel experience changed from a frustrating, stressful process, to one of incredible independence and information. Quite often as blind people, we are so focused on going from point A to point B, or trying to accomplish a task with minimal complications, that we miss all the incredible information, detail and at times opportunity along the way to the destination. While going from gate to gate in Chicago O’Hare’s airport, carrying only my bags and wearing the glasses, Emily was not focused on just providing me information about how to get to the destination, but for the first time, I was getting information about the surroundings while going to my destination. While walking across that massive airport she was telling me about restrooms, restaurants, shops and other gates I was passing, all information that was extremely useful when my flight was delayed later on and I needed to get something to eat. It was an experience.
As someone who has worked in the field of technology for those who are visually impaired for over twelve years, I have seen many different types of technologies come and go. I can honestly say that I have never used a piece of technology which has impacted my life both on an independence and emotional level, as Aira has.
With Aira being extremely forward thinking with their focus on the hands free customer experience, as a product manager and a user, I wanted to be a part of growing this exciting company and further expanding the already incredible impact it can have on our Aira Explorers’ lives.
Suman Kanuganti — “Greg Stilson was an early adopter of Aira and has been a terrific Explorer. I learned a great deal early on about Aira’s value with his feedback. I was particularly intrigued by his passion for discovering product-market fit within the ecosystem of Aira’s platform and its extendability. He is a brilliant person and I can’t wait to work with him in a full-time capacity as Director of Product Management during this exciting time here at Aira, continuing to strive for the best in class information access platform for everyone.”
With a talented and well trained network of agents in place, already delivering extraordinary service to Aira Explorers, I saw a very human company helping to solve everyday problems for its users. Today the mainstream shift to wearable devices is happening everywhere and use of wearable devices will be increasingly important for those with visual impairments as our hands are always occupied with travel tools such as a cane or dog guide. Aira has publicly committed to its investment into enhancing its platform using artificial intelligence (AI), but it is the human aspect of the company which I believe orients Aira in the best position possible. It is that human interaction that Aira does so well that will guide the AI development and make the interaction between an Aira explorer and the AI feel natural. I see a company who truly cares about its users and has barely touched the surface of its potential. The future is bright for Aira and I am incredibly proud to be a part of shaping it.