John F Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International and LaGuardia airports have launched free Aira services for travelers with visual impairments.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports, has launched a 12-month pilot program that combines mobile technology, artificial intelligence and real-time human interaction to help the visually impaired in navigating the airport.
The free service will be available to travelers via a smartphone app paid for by the Port Authority and provided by Aira, a company that uses video-chatting technology and the support of a customer representative to provide wayfinding assistance.
Aira will be accessible from various curbside public access locations around the airports, and within the terminals, excluding TSA and CBP checkpoint areas.
Using a smartphone, customers can download the application, sign up, then connect to a remote professional agent who can see the user’s surroundings through their device’s camera. This enables agents to provide real-time audio descriptions as well as GPS location, maps, rideshare and photo-sharing capabilities. The ability to connect with a highly trained person who views surroundings through the phone’s camera provides easier mobility for those needing guidance around the airports.
“Aira’s mission is to make information instantly accessible, anytime, anywhere, for all people,” said Aira CEO Troy Otillio. “We are thrilled with this partnership and thank the Port Authority for their strong commitment to inclusion and for embracing an innovative approach to enhancing the airport experience for all passengers.”
The Port Authority and Aira will use targeted marketing to educate the public about Aira Access, as well as engaging the community with local blind and low-vision advocacy groups.