Today, ride sharing platform Lyft and Aira, an assistive community for the blind or partially sighted, have announced a new partnership to make transportation more accessible to those who are visually impaired.
Aira utilises augmented reality (AR) technology to help enhance a blind or partially sighted person’s everyday experience either using a mobile app or with hands free, wearable smartglasses. With Aira’s assistance, visually impaired riders can use smart glasses and an AR dashboard to receive essential ride information. Aira customers using Lyft for the first time can enter the promo code “AIRA” into their app for $5 off two rides.
The system works by a Aira customer activating the smartglasses which then connects them to a trained Aira professional agent who can then help them with any questions and assistance they may have or need. So now Aira agents can initiate Lyft rides, relaying information including the location of designated pick-up spots, estimated time of pick-up, and the estimated fare. They can also share the driver’s name and vehicle information to identify the ride, then track the ride, ensure the drop off location, and finally, as needed, provide navigational information to users as they walk the last 50 feet to their destination.
“Lyft is committed to be a model for the type of community we want our world to be: diverse, inclusive, and safe,” says Suman Kanuganti, Aira Founder and CEO in a Medium Blog. “Aira’s mission is to give people who are blind or low vision the power of information. I am psyched about this partnership as it’s designed to provide an end-to-end enhanced experience that makes transportation more accessible to all blind and low vision people, anytime and anywhere.”
The partnership with Aira continues Lyft’s goal of working towards better, safer, and more seamless experiences for its diverse ridesharing community. Earlier in 2017, Lyft also announced a partnership with the National Association of the Deaf to improve ride access for deaf and hard of hearing people to better connect their drivers and passengers.
This is done through Lyfts Amp device that replaces the audible “ping” that alerts drivers to a new ride with text that reads “NEW RIDE.” Drivers can also tap ‘Settings’ and ‘Accessibility’ on their smartphones to have the screen and flashlight flash when they receive an incoming ride request. Additionally, passengers riding with deaf or hard-of-hearing drivers will receive an SMS notification to contact their driver by text rather than through a voice call. These passengers are also encouraged to let the driver lead the communication process.
“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Aira, an organization that enables hundreds of millions of low vision people to lead better futures,” stated Gyre Renwick, Vice President of Lyft Business. “Together, we’re working towards our mission of improving people’s lives with the world’s best transportation by introducing better transportation solutions to those with vision loss — ultimately enhancing mobility opportunities and helping create more accessible cities.”
For the latest development of AR technology, keep reading VRFocus.