Keeping Pace with IoT: AT&T and Aira Collaboration Help Steer Boston Marathon Runner on a New Course

April 17, 2017
By Chris Penrose

Today is Marathon Monday! I don’t live in the Boston area, but the buzz can be felt throughout the country.

Organizers expect 30,000 athletes from 94 countries to compete in the 121st Boston Marathon. Among them is Erich Manser from Littleton, Massachusetts.

Erich has a degenerative disease that has left him partially blind. It will eventually lead to complete blindness. He’s described his vision as “looking through a keyhole covered with wax paper.”

No doubt all of the individuals running today have spent weeks and months training and preparing for this iconic race. But Erich’s training regimen—and his actual run today—is like no other. 

Erich is running with Aira glasses connected by AT&T. The connected glasses stream video of his surroundings to Jessica, an Aira-certified agent located in Ohio. 

Jessica, like all Aira agents, has extensive training in mobility and accessibility. She’s equipped with an artificial intelligence powered dashboard that serves as mission-control to help Erich access any visual information he’ll need during his run today. Basically, Jessica is “seeing” from Erich’s perspective in near real-time.

She’ll communicate back and forth with him as needed throughout the race.

Though Erich will also have a sighted guide running with him for safety reasons, this is an important milestone. It marks the first time anyone has run the Boston Marathon with the help of a remote human agent.

Aira is the first product to come out of AT&T's Foundry for Connected Health. The combination of Aira’s groundbreaking assistive technology and our highly secure wireless connectivity helps blind and visually impaired customers get through everyday tasks with greater efficiency and tackle new challenges.

Erich’s story is another great example of “IoT for Good.” On behalf of Aira and AT&T, I wish Erich and all of those participating in this year’s Boston Marathon a safe and successful race.   

Chris Penrose - Senior Vice President of AT&T’s IoT Organization

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