AT&T and Aira Explorer Help Visually Impaired Experience Solar Eclipse

Innovation /

AT&T Foundry has partnered with Aira to create smart glasses that will help those who are blind or visually impaired experience the solar eclipse in real-time.

On Aug. 21, people across the U.S. will step outside and experience one of nature’s most visual phenomenons – a total solar eclipse.

And while most spectators will be donning quirky paper Eclipse 2017 glasses, a more advanced pair will be changing the experience altogether.

The start-up Aira came to the Connected Health AT&T Foundry to improve wireless connectivity for their groundbreaking platform.

Aira’s remote technology uses smart glasses to connect those with diminished vision to a network of certified human agents.

The user, Aira Explorer, taps on the glasses to connect to an agent who offers assistance. Using a video camera, the agents can “see” from the wearer’s perspective in near real time. Then, the agent can communicate back to the wearer.

We provided several solutions to improve the experience for both the Aira Explorer and agent. AT&T Dynamic Traffic Management helps businesses prioritize critical applications and data transmissions through the AT&T 4G LTE network. This alleviates the effects of network congestion, especially when responsiveness is a top priority.

As the total eclipse nears, we’re working with Aira to plan for a more inclusive eclipse. 

“The eclipse is a deeply visual experience and we want to turn it into an audible one,”  said Suman Kanuganti, CEO of Aira. “And, like all life experiences, for our users it comes down to having that experience in real time when it’s supposed to happen rather than after the fact.”

A Nashville-based Aira Explorer will step outside, connect with his Aira agent and begin to experience the eclipse through their smart glasses. The conversation will be broadcasted live, sharing the audio eclipse experience for all.

“I think Aira really started to peel back the onion on unlocking new experiences for the visually impaired and you know this is just the kind of work that we appreciate,” said Nadia Morris, Director of AT&T Foundry for Connected Health. “It really shows the power of the network and how that can enable things that have never been possible before.

In addition to the live Aira broadcast, AT&T has worked with Georgia Tech’s Sonification Lab to develop a soundtrack built using eclipse data. A team of students and researchers in the Sonification Lab will take images and data points from past eclipses, include data points from the eclipse on August 21, and turn them into sounds that showcase what is happening in the sky.  Think of it as an eclipse soundtrack driven by data. 

Visit the AT&T Newsroom to experience the eclipse through the trained agents of Aira and AT&T Aug. 21, or learn about a once-in-a-lifetime gameday experience with Emmitt Smith.