That was a really good read.

On 4/7/18, Arlene <arlenes71...@earthlink.net> wrote:
> Thank you, Richard. It sounds confusing but we'll try it.
>   ----- Original Message -----
>   From: Richard Turner
>   To: viphone@googlegroups.com
>   Sent: Saturday, April 07, 2018 8:37 PM
>   Subject: Re: A review of Aira. What it is, how it works, and the ways it
> has changed my life by Jonathan Mosen,
>
>
>
>
>   Hi,
>   If you want to select all, I used the rotor Text Selection, which is an
> Apple thing, not a Writer feature. You have to enable it in the VoiceOver
> Rotor Settings.
>   But, in Writer, there is a button to use for selecting smaller chunks, but
> it is kind of complicated to explain right now.
>   If you do not have Text Selection on your rotor, I would recommend going
> in the settings for Rotor and enabling it by double tapping on it so it says
> "selected."
>   HTH,
>   Richard
>
>
>
>
>
>   “The secret is not to make your music louder, but to make the world
> quieter.”
>
>   - Mitch Albom from The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, page 1
>
>
>   On Apr 7, 2018, at 6:06 PM, Arlene <arlenes71...@earthlink.net> wrote:
>
>
>     Richard, where's text selection and writer? Thanks.
>       ----- Original Message -----
>       From: Richard Turner
>       To: viphone@googlegroups.com
>       Sent: Friday, April 06, 2018 7:23 PM
>       Subject: A review of Aira. What it is, how it works, and the ways it
> has changed my life by Jonathan Mosen,
>
>
>
>
>       Greetings,
>       I decided to use text selection and select all before VoiceOver locked
> up, then copy and paste Mark's message into Writer, then it read well.
>       So, I copied it back out of Writer and am pasting it below. Hopefully,
> whatever was causing the problem is gone.
>       Here is Mark's entire message:
>       Hello Everyone,
>
>
>       I am posting the following article because it references an iOS app.
>
>
>       Mark
>
>
>       A review of Aira. What it is, how it works, and the ways it has
> changed my
>       life
>       by Jonathan Mosen, Posted on 03/04/2018
>
>
>       Introduction
>       Recently, I was pleased to attend the CSUN assistive technology
> conference.
>       I've had the privilege of going to 10 of these before, but it has been
> a few
>       years since I was there last.
>       When you're involved with an industry, you tend to watch developments
> so
>       closely that changes usually seem incremental. But occasionally,
> something
>       new comes along that is so game changing, it stops you in your tracks.
> For
>       me, San Diego-based Aira is one such technology. I am late to this
> party.
>       Aira has been rolling out for some time in the United States. And
> indeed, we
>       covered Aira in an edition of The Blind Side Podcast last year. But
> since
>       mentioning my Aira experience to people via outlet such as my Internet
> radio
>       show, The Mosen Explosion, I've learned that not everyone yet fully
>       understands what the service is or how it works. For those not
> familiar with
>       Aira, or who would like to read someone else's impressions of it, read
> on.
>       What is Aira
>       According to the company's website,
>       Aira is today's fastest growing assistive community. One tap of a
> button
>       instantly connects you with a sighted professional agent who delivers
> visual
>       assistance anytime and anywhere.
>       Here's what that means in practice. At present, Aira is a smart phone
> app,
>       available for iOS and Android. Since Aira is a service for blind
> people,
>       it's no surprise that the app is exemplary in terms of its
> accessibility.
>       And in iOS, it even sports Siri integration.
>       Using the app, you can connect via video, much like a FaceTime call,
> with
>       agents who can provide you with visual information. Audio quality is
>       excellent, far clearer than a standard cell phone connection.
> Essentially,
>       an Aira agent can tell you anything at all that a pair of functioning
> eyes
>       can see, plus perform a range of tasks pertaining to that
> information.
>       You can acquire the visual information using your smart phone's
> camera, or,
>       when you become a subscriber to the Aira service (Aira calls its
> customers
>       "explorers") you receive a pair of smart glasses. These are included
> as part
>       of your subscription, so there's no hardware cost upfront.
>       The service is available officially in the United States at present,
> where
>       Aira has an arrangement with AT&T. Aira explorers receive an AT&T
> MiFi
>       device, allowing them to use the service on the go without the data
> consumed
>       by the video connection eating up a customer's own cellular plan. If
> you
>       have a cellular plan equipped with the personal hotspot feature, you
> are
>       free to pair your Aira glasses with your phone using that method. For
> those
>       with large data plans, this may be attractive because there is one
> less
>       device to keep track of, carry, and charge. The downside, other than
> the
>       data consumption, is that a video connection to Aira for a long time
> may
>       cause significant battery drain on your smart phone.
>       When you're at home, work, or anywhere that Wi-Fi is available that
> doesn't
>       require web-based authentication, you can pair your Aira glasses to
> that
>       network. As far as I have been able to ascertain, 5 GHZ Wi-Fi isn't
>       supported at present.
>       Because of the need for high quality video, the glasses pair via
> Wi-Fi, and
>       not Bluetooth. The glasses are associated with your Aira account. This
> is
>       useful if, like in Bonnie's and my house, you're sharing your minutes
> as a
>       couple. More on that later.
>       The upshot of all of this is that for 18 hours of every day,
> professional,
>       well-trained sighted assistance is just a few taps or a Siri command
> away.
>       Describing it like this makes it sound kind of cool. But I want to
> explain
>       the impact that Aira has had on our lives in the brief time we have
> had it,
>       to illustrate that, at least for some of us, this technology is more
> than
>       just pretty cool, it's life-changing.
>       My first Aira experience
>       If you've been reading this blog or listening to The Blind Side
> Podcast over
>       the years, you will know that in recent times I have come out as
> having a
>       hearing impairment. I love going to these big conferences because I
> get to
>       catch up with old friends and make new ones, as well as see the latest
> and
>       greatest technology. I hate going to these big conferences because
> often, I
>       find myself in difficult audio environments. It can be very noisy.
> Hotel
>       lobbies and restaurants are often exceedingly crowded, with high
> ceilings
>       causing noise to bounce everywhere. The environment is difficult and
> tiring,
>       but I keep going and doing the best I can, because the alternative is
> to sit
>       at home and rust away, and I'm certainly not going to do that.
>       One smart thing that Aira has done is to start rolling out a concept
> called
>       "site access". With appropriate sponsorship, or perhaps at times where
> there
>       will be many potential customers in one place, Aira can enable free
> access
>       to a location or even the entire city through their smart city
> project.
>       There are two benefits to the strategy. First, it's helpful for
> existing
>       Aira explorers because they can use the service as much as they want
> without
>       it counting against their monthly plans.
>       Second, anyone, even those not signed up with an Aira monthly plan,
> can go
>       to the iOS App Store or the Google Play Store, download the app,
> create a
>       guest account, and use the service for free. As I found out, it's
> convenient
>       to have access to Aira in such situations, and it offers the
> opportunity for
>       Aira to convert those guests into full-time explorers. Smart stuff.
>       It was thanks to this program that I gave Aira a shot. Had I been
> required
>       to go to the booth to give it a go, I probably would have run out of
> time
>       and wouldn't be writing this post. But it was a cinch to download the
> app
>       and set up my guest account.
>       I first decided to put Aira through a simple test. Having arrived in
> San
>       Diego after a long journey, I wasn't taking much notice of the hotel
> layout
>       when the porter showed me to my room. So, the next morning, I made my
> first
>       call to Aira, and asked the friendly agent to guide me to the
> elevator. Not
>       only did I get to the elevator effortlessly, I was also guided right
> to the
>       button for the elevator.
>       But the call I will never forget is the one I made to ask for
> assistance
>       getting to the exhibit hall while exhibits were being set up. If
> you've
>       visited the Grand Hyatt in San Diego, you'll know how cavernous the
> lobby
>       can sound. When the lobby is full of people, I find it impossible to
>       navigate, because there's just so much sound bouncing everywhere. To
> be
>       honest, I wasn't expecting much from Aira, but I was keen to see what
> would
>       happen.
>       This is the moment when I transitioned from the intellectual
> understanding
>       that "this is quite a good concept", to the emotional connection that
> made
>       me say "holy guacamole, this thing is changing my life!"
>       I'm not a guide dog handler at the moment, but I have been in the
> past. One
>       of the advantages of working with a dog over using a cane is that you
> avoid
>       many obstacles without ever coming into contact with them. The
> exception is
>       if you are a cane user with good echolocation. I think that even with
> full
>       hearing, I would have found echolocation difficult in that very noisy
> lobby,
>       but it's certainly not viable for me now. Therefore, in that type of
>       environment, I often find myself hitting people's legs with my cane,
> as I
>       try to find a way forward. With the Aira agent talking in my hearing
> aids
>       which were also delivering environmental sounds, I was getting
> information
>       about where the crowds were, and when I needed to veer to avoid
> running into
>       people. I was told when it was necessary to turn to reach my
> destination and
>       given confirmation that I was indeed heading in the correct
> direction.
>       Because of my hearing, and the fact that I know navigating these
>       environments can be difficult, I had allowed myself plenty of time to
> reach
>       the exhibit hall. But I reached it much more quickly than I had
> anticipated,
>       and with much less stress than usual.
>       When we eventually reached the exhibit hall, which was some
> considerable
>       distance away, the agent informed me that the door was closed. I
> expected
>       this, since I was heading to the exhibit hall before it was officially
> open
>       to the public. The icing on the cake was when she said that she could
> see a
>       counter to the left of the door with a sign labelled "Exhibit
> Services". She
>       then informed me that there was a man behind that counter and offered
> to
>       lead me to him. She did so, and he let me in. Astounded, I thanked
> the
>       agent, and ended the call.
>       Full disclosure, at this point, it gets a bit embarrassing. No
> technology
>       has made me cry for joy before. But a stressful experience I have to
> psych
>       myself up for had just been made effortless and enjoyable. I was
> utterly
>       overwhelmed. This was all achieved with no more than the free app and
> the
>       camera on my iPhone X.
>       Piloting Aira outside the US
>       I've no doubt that I would have been wowed by Aira even if I had been
> blind
>       without a hearing impairment. But, having had a taste of the
> independence it
>       was giving me, even better than the independence I had when I was a
>       traveller without a hearing impairment, I really wanted to see if
> there was
>       any way I could take this home to New Zealand. I knew it would be
> unlikely,
>       because Aira is very clear that they are only available now in the
> United
>       States and I think parts of Canada. But I genuinely felt that having
> had a
>       taste of Aira, I would feel a sense of disability if I lost it again.
>       I met with Aira's CEO, Suman Kanuganti, who kindly agreed to let me
> pilot
>       the service here. Since this is a fairly glowing review of the
> service, I
>       want to be clear that I am paying the same as everyone else. This is
> not a
>       paid advertisement. And I'm aware of the limitations of using the
> service
>       here when it's not officially supported. For example, Aira is
> currently
>       unavailable between 1 AM and 7 AM Eastern time. At this time of year,
> that
>       equates to 5 PM to 11 PM New Zealand time. That's a time when we have
> had a
>       need for the service, but I signed up knowing what I was getting into,
> so
>       that's an observation rather than a complaint. Even for Aira's
> existing
>       customer base, I'm sure many hope that this downtime will soon be a
> thing of
>       the past. I'm one of those totally blind people without light
> perception who
>       has non-24 sleep/wake disorder. I'm fortunate that because most of my
>       deliverables can be delivered at any time, I just let my circadian
> rhythm do
>       its thing. That means I'm sometimes very productive at 2, 3 or 4 AM.
> I'm
>       sure there are many Aira users in the United States in a similar
> position,
>       who'd value having access to Aira at that time.
>       I'll also be providing feedback on any technical or cultural issues
> relating
>       to the use of the service here, should they arise. The most obvious
> cultural
>       issue is that many of our place names are in the Maori language, the
>       indigenous language of New Zealand. Understandably, Aira agents don't
> have
>       experience pronouncing them correctly, but that's no different from
>       listening to the same place names spoken by most text-to-speech
> engines.
>       When mobile, Bonnie and I are using Aira with our mobile data plans.
> We
>       share a cellular plan that has 25 GB of mobile data per month, and our
> LTE
>       networks are very robust here, particularly in urban environments.
>       Signing up as an explorer
>       Typically, when you sign up as an explorer, you can start using the
> service
>       right away with your smart phone, and the hardware is shipped to you.
> Since
>       I was at the CSUN conference, I was able to sign up online, and
> collect my
>       hardware from the Aira booth.
>       The ability to use the service as a guest is fairly new, and one of
> the
>       problems I had was that I couldn't sign up with the email address I
> had
>       associated with my guest account, because the system flagged it as
> already
>       in use. It would be nice to have a feature within the app that allowed
> you
>       to upgrade to a paid account while signed in as a guest. Hopefully
> that will
>       come in time. The only way around it for now is either to sign up with
> a
>       different email address or complete the process over the phone.
>       When you make your first call as a fully-fledged explorer, an Aira
> agent
>       assists you to create your profile. It's here that you really start
> to
>       appreciate how carefully the services been devised. Suman Kanuganti
> and his
>       team have worked closely with Blind people, sought their advice, and
> taken
>       it to heart. It would have been easy for a service like this to have
> become
>       patronising. Instead, the culture feels like it is truly a
> partnership
>       between the explorer and the agent.
>       As part of the induction process, you are advised that Aira will never
> tell
>       you that it's safe to cross the street, and agents will remain silent
> while
>       you are crossing. If you are mobile, and the agent detects that you're
> not
>       travelling with a cane or a dog, they will disconnect the call. They
> make it
>       clear that they are not a substitute for your blindness skills, or for
> your
>       mobility tool of choice. And they advise that they keep personal
> opinions
>       out of all descriptions and interactions.
>       You're asked if there are any additional disabilities that it would
> be
>       helpful for them to be aware of. I was able to tell them about my
> hearing
>       impairment.
>       Rather like when using JAWS, you are offered three levels of
> verbosity. The
>       three levels are explained to you clearly. Your default level is
> recorded in
>       your profile. You can change the default at any time, or for a
> particular
>       call. The most verbose option will even describe people's facial
> expressions
>       as you're walking down the street.
>       You're asked whether you prefer directions to be given as a clock
> face, or
>       in terms of "left" and "right". In a noisy environment, it's easier
> for me
>       to differentiate between 9 o'clock and 3 o'clock, than between left
> and
>       right.
>       Once the process is done, all your preferences are recorded and
> immediately
>       made available to the agent when you call in.
>       Ride sharing Integration
>       Using the APIs of the ride sharing services Uber and Lyft, Aira can
> connect
>       to your accounts to both call and monitor your rides. You may ask the
> agent
>       to initiate the entire process for you, or you could use the app of
> your
>       ride sharing service of choice to call a vehicle, then get the agent
> online
>       who can see the car you've been allocated, and help you watch for its
>       arrival.
>       Some people have safety concerns about using ride sharing services,
> since
>       you might walk up to a car that you think is the one you've called,
> only to
>       find its some random person. Having an Aira agent assist you to the
> vehicle
>       will avoid that.
>       It's also a brilliant way to catch drivers who speed away because of
> your
>       dog. An Aira agent can take pictures remotely using the camera you're
>       connecting with, be it the camera on your smart phone or the one built
> into
>       the glasses. This gives you photographic evidence of the driver
> speeding
>       away.
>       Sharing minutes
>       Recently, Aira introduced the ability to share minutes with up to two
>       additional people. The feature is great for blind couples like Bonnie
> and
>       me. Inviting Bonnie to share my minutes was easily done from the app,
> and
>       she was signed up in minutes, although there was a technical issue
> which
>       prevented her from logging in. This was resolved in a few hours after
>       contacting Aira.
>       How we've used Aira
>       There is a wonderful section on the Aira website and in its app, with
>       extensive lists of the way that people are using the service. As the
> father
>       of two daughters, one use case that both resonated with me and amused
> me was
>       the explorer who asked an agent to describe their daughter's new
> boyfriend.
>       But here are just a few of the ways that we've used Aira since we've
> had it.
>       What does this button do?
>       It was wonderful to be able to ask an agent, trained to explain
> things
>       clearly, how to operate the air-conditioning in my hotel room in San
> Diego.
>       I was also curious about a little panel to the right of the
> air-conditioning
>       unit. After getting me to look at the unit, the agent took a photo,
> blew it
>       up, and told me that it was a control panel for the windows in my
> hotel
>       room. I probably wouldn't have bothered investigating it had it not
> been for
>       Aira.
>       Journalism
>       Bonnie has now embarked on a journalism course. Today's journalists
> must
>       operate in a multimedia environment. This includes taking their own
> photos.
>       Thanks to the technology VoiceOver offers, it's possible for a blind
> person
>       to take good photos. When action is moving fast though, it may not be
>       possible to capture that action quickly enough. And VoiceOver's
> camera
>       functions are limited to recognising people. Seeing AI will recognise
>       scenes, but only after you've taken the picture. Aira to the rescue.
>       Just a couple of days after Bonnie began sharing my Aira minutes, she
> needed
>       to cover a popular Wellington street festival. Bonnie tells me she
> couldn't
>       have done it without Aira. Giving instructions to the agent ahead of
> time
>       about the kind of material she wanted to capture, the Aira agent was
> able to
>       take pictures at exactly the right time and give Bonnie advice about
> how to
>       angle the camera. Her photography lecturer praised the photos.
>       The agent gave vivid, detailed descriptions of the festival and the
> people
>       participating in it, which made it easy for Bonnie to write a
> descriptive,
>       colourful newspaper story that wasn't devoid of visual imagery even
> though
>       she is blind.
>       When Bonnie got the munchies after a hard day's journalism, the agent
> helped
>       her locate the food truck she wanted from a number that were at the
>       festival, and then read her the menu on the side of the truck.
>       Preserving the moment
>       Since Aira can take pictures using the glasses or camera remotely, we
>       recently used it at a birthday party we attended to get the perfect
> picture
>       for our own records, and for posting to social media.
>       Compiling reports
>       When you travel and collect receipts, you end up with little bits of
> paper,
>       business cards from cab drivers with receipt information scrawled on
> the
>       back, and big pieces of paper.
>       I've become adept over the years at performing optical character
> recognition
>       on all of it for the compilation of expense reports, but it's
>       time-consuming. I took the stress out of the situation and handed it
> to
>       Aira. My agent advised using the camera on the iPhone X for this task
> rather
>       than the glasses. She gave instructions regarding the positioning of
> the
>       camera, took pictures of all the documents, and I had no doubt that
> each
>       receipt was fully in the picture.
>       She put them all in a single document which she then emailed to me.
> This
>       process took probably a third to a quarter of the time it would have
> usually
>       taken me.
>       Transcription
>       As someone who's been totally blind since birth, I've enjoyed becoming
> more
>       familiar with effective use of the camera and understanding the
> relationship
>       between distance and getting the subject of a photograph fully in the
>       picture. When in hotels, I sometimes find getting a good-quality
> capture of
>       hotel compendia and in-room dining menus a challenge. The print may
> have
>       become faded over time, or there's a wide variation of print types. It
> can
>       also take time to work out whether there is print on both sides of the
> page
>       or not, and sometimes that can vary even within the same document.
>       At a recent hotel stay, Aira took all the stress out of rendering the
>       in-room dining menu accessible to Bonnie and me. The agent very
> quickly
>       snapped pictures of all the pages and could see at a glance when the
> pages
>       were single or double-sided. Then, the agent transcribed the text into
> a
>       fully accessible Word document. I was given the choice as to whether
> I
>       wanted a full transcription, which of course took a little longer, or
> just a
>       summary of the items on the menu and their prices.
>       The mysteries of the minibar
>       Many hotel minibars now have sophisticated sensors that charge you for
> an
>       item when you lift it out of the fridge. Rather than hunt around for
> a
>       barcode on each bottle, can, and food item, an Aira agent was able to
> recite
>       the cans in the fridge in left-to-right order.
>       Real-time audio description
>       Bonnie and I recently took a gondola ride in one of the most
> picturesque
>       parts of New Zealand. One of our party was sighted, nevertheless, I
> decided
>       to call Aira, to ask an agent if she could give me real-time audio
>       description as we rode the gondola, then as we stood on the viewing
>       platform. It was a moving experience to get such detailed descriptions
> of
>       the water, the tree line and the city below. Our sighted companion
> was
>       impressed, saying that Aira had told us things she wouldn't have
> thought
>       about describing.
>       Does Aira harm the accessibility cause?
>       When I've discussed Aira with some blind people, a few have expressed
> the
>       concern that the service may discourage those of us who have it from
>       continuing to advocate for a truly accessible world. They fear that
> as
>       providers of information and services become aware of Aira, they may
> feel
>       under less of an obligation to do the right thing when it comes to
>       accessibility.
>       For example, if you read this blog regularly, you will know I've been
>       campaigning about the code to complete the New Zealand census not
> being
>       accessible. If I had been an Aira explorer at the time, an Aira agent
> would
>       have read the access code to me, and the process would have taken
> about a
>       minute maximum. Would I have begun my campaign for the codes to be
>       inherently accessible if Aira had been in our home to do that for me?
> I
>       would like to think so.
>       A similar concern was expressed when JAWS introduced the ability to
> perform
>       OCR on inaccessible PDF files.
>       I believe Aira is a pragmatic solution that delivers access to us
> today.
>       That in no way means that those of us with the skills and inclination
> to
>       advocate for a more accessible world shouldn't continue to do so. If
> we've
>       been able to use Aira to work around the problem, it's just that, a
>       work-around. Most of the world's written information today is born
>       accessible. Someone must take a deliberate step to convert it into
> something
>       inaccessible, and we must always object to that occurring. So, we must
> still
>       advocate for all aspects of life to be as accessible as possible.
>       In this highly visual world, there'll always be plenty of tasks for
> Aira to
>       perform, even as accessibility improves.
>       Does Aira erode blindness skills?
>       The arrival of the pocket calculator, the cell phone with a built-in
> contact
>       directory, and many other technologies have been the cause of people
>       expressing concern about the "dumbing down" of the human race. A few
> people
>       I've spoken with about Aira have wondered if it will cause an erosion
> of
>       blindness skills among its users. I don't believe so. I contend the
> impact
>       will be positive.
>       For me personally, other circumstances, specifically my hearing
> impairment,
>       have made travel time-consuming and exhausting. Freedom of movement
> should
>       not be the privilege of the blind elite who happen to find travel
> intuitive
>       and easy. Freedom of movement is, in my view, a fundamental human
> right.
>       With the ability to travel under less stress, I believe my travel
> skills,
>       which may have eroded a little over the years as I've begun avoiding
> tricky
>       situations, will in fact improve due to increased use.
>       Remember, Aira does not replace your cane or dog. You must still know
> how to
>       use your cane in a way that helps you locate obstacles and provides
> you with
>       clues about your environment.
>       What it costs, and is it value for money?
>       Assuming you have a smartphone, there is no other hardware you must
> purchase
>       to use Aira. It's all included as part of the package.
>       The current pricing structure looks like this:
>       .    Basic Plan. 100 regular minutes a month for $89.
>       .    Plus Plan. 200 regular minutes a month for $129.
>       .    Pro Plan. 400 regular minutes a month for $199.
>       .    Premium Plan. Unlimited regular minutes a month for $329.
>       I believe it is possible to get further discounts on the Pro plan if
> you pay
>       a year, or even several years, in advance.
>       If you run out of minutes, you can purchase additional ones.
>       You can cancel or upgrade your plan at any time.
>       Whenever a company provides a service directly to the blind community,
> there
>       are always people who will express concern about cost. Unfortunately,
> the
>       economic reality is that the cost of research and development, as well
> as
>       the overheads involved in running a business, must be spread across a
>       smaller group of people when providing a service to our community.
> This
>       equation is made more difficult because so many people in our
> community are
>       unemployed and living hand to mouth. Sure, for some people, Aira will
> be
>       worth sacrificing a few daily cups of premium coffee for, but it's not
> that
>       easy for everyone.
>       Some people question whether the service is worth the cost given that
> there
>       is a free service, Be My Eyes, which connects you with sighted
> volunteers.
>       Be My Eyes is a useful service, and I don't seek to denigrate it at
> all. I
>       am signed up with it, have supported it since before it went live, and
> I use
>       it from time to time. But Be My Eyes relies on volunteers. Some people
> are
>       so keen to assist a blind person that they answer a call when they may
> have
>       been better letting it go. Others simply don't explain things clearly
>       enough. And yes, there are some who are outstanding. But I equate
> using Be
>       My Eyes with asking a stranger for directions in the street. Sometimes
> you
>       will get somebody who couldn't be more helpful. At other times you
> will get
>       somebody who doesn't know their right from their left, or just isn't
>       observant about the world around them.
>       With Aira, the agents have been trained extensively, plus they have
> tools
>       that help pinpoint your location and provide other data. There's also
> a
>       guarantee of privacy with Aira.
>       I know of people who've used Aira to help them sign employment
> contracts,
>       complete tax returns and more.
>       So, in my view, there is no question that Aira will revolutionise the
> lives
>       of many blind people if they can afford to access it. This raises
> important
>       public policy questions. Many agencies serving blind people will
> provide
>       funding for sighted assistance to be available on-location at
> specific
>       times. Perhaps such agencies fund several hours of assistance each
> week in
>       the workplace. Other agencies may fund a human reader to visit a
> blind
>       person's home. Aira gives you access to sighted assistance on demand,
> at
>       your convenience, not at the convenience of the sighted person. This
> is
>       important because some tasks may only take a couple of minutes, but
> they can
>       be show stoppers on the job until we can get that assistance. In a
> work
>       environment, sighted assistance on-demand through Aira has the
> potential to
>       improve a blind person's productivity.
>       There's also the social investment argument. If a much wider range of
> blind
>       people can feel comfortable about travelling in unfamiliar areas,
> government
>       investment in Aira could pay dividends by improving employability.
>       Looking to the future
>       Most blind people become blind later in life. And most of those people
> don't
>       have smart phones. This group is often forgotten, so it's encouraging
> to see
>       that Aira has been giving them considerable thought. The coming
> generation
>       of seniors will be more assertive and tech savvy. They will have had
>       experience of technology in the workplace, and they are willing to
> spend
>       money to ameliorate the consequences of their age-related disability.
>       However, they may decide that coming to terms with the blindness
> specific
>       touchscreen paradigm is just too difficult. Certainly, that's the case
> now.
>       Yet I think many seniors would love to have access to Aira. If they
> can have
>       an agent assist them to read the newspaper in the morning, describe
> pictures
>       of the grandchildren or go through their mail, that's something many
> would
>       gladly pay for.
>       The market for Aira's services is going to increase significantly with
> the
>       introduction of their new Horizon technology. Currently, to use Aira,
> you
>       need at least two things - a smart phone, and the glasses, both of
> which
>       need to be charged. If you want to use it without eating into your
> data
>       plan, you'll need to carry the AT&T MiFi device around with you. That
> also
>       needs to be charged separately. That's three things in total that need
> to be
>       charged.
>       Within the next few months, Aira is promising to simplify their
> offering
>       significantly. They've taken a Samsung Android device, which includes
> a
>       physical home button, and developed their own firmware for it. This
> device
>       is not designed to be used as a cell phone. Rather than requiring a
> MiFi,
>       the data SIM will be in this device. The new Horizon glasses, which
> are much
>       more fashionable and elegant looking, are tethered to this device with
> an
>       unobtrusive-looking cable. The field of view is much improved, as is
> the
>       video quality. That means less need to keep turning one's head at the
>       instruction of the Aira agent. With the glasses getting their power
> from the
>       Horizon device, battery life is massively improved.
>       This all means that someone who doesn't have a smart phone will fire
> up the
>       Horizon device, double tap the button, and talk to an agent. Smart
> phone
>       users will retain the option to control their Aira experience via the
> app
>       they're used to.
>       This configuration also reduces latency and any potential for video
>       degradation. There will no longer be a wireless hop that the video
> needs to
>       take between the glasses and the device transmitting the video to an
> Aira
>       agent.
>       Clearly, considerable thought and capital investment has gone into the
> next
>       generation of the service. This demonstrates that Aira is continuing
> to
>       innovate and thinking about broadening its base.
>       Over time, artificial intelligence will become smarter, and will be
> able to
>       do more of the things that human agents are doing for Aira explorers
> now.
>       It's therefore sensible forward planning that Aira has begun work on
> their
>       own artificial intelligence engine they are calling Chloe. Initially,
> Chloe
>       will offer optical character recognition, and perform functions
> relating to
>       the operation and configuration of the Horizon device. I imagine that
> over
>       time, Chloe will become more capable. That will increase efficiency
> for the
>       explorer and reduce overheads for the company.
>       Concluding thoughts
>       Aira's evolution is an exemplary case study of how to tap into a
> niche
>       market and create a new, innovative product. Of course, it's not
> perfect,
>       but what is? Sometimes, you can lose cellular coverage when you really
> need
>       it, causing the connection with the agent to drop. There's nothing
> Aira can
>       do about that other than ensuring they're using hardware that
> maximises the
>       cellular signal, and to have a robust protocol in place for seeking
> to
>       re-establish the connection. But all in all, the service is
> fantastic.
>       There've been a few phases of Aira adoption for me. The first was
> hearing
>       about it and understanding intellectually that it was a clever idea.
> The
>       second was the strong, powerful, emotional realisation that this
> could
>       really change my life. The third is the dawning realisation that I'm
> not
>       imposing on anybody anymore. Many of us can relate to having sighted
> family
>       members or friends who we turn to when we need a pair of working eyes,
> and
>       we hope we are not overdoing it. When I first started using Aira, I
> had a
>       twinge of reluctance about making calls, wondering if someone might
> need the
>       help of the agent more than me. Then, one day, it really dawned on me.
> The
>       people at Aira want me to make the call. After all, if I use up all
> my
>       minutes, I might buy more. So, when I make a call to Aira, I'm not
>       inconveniencing anybody, I'm strengthening their bottom line. How
> wonderful
>       it is to call on sighted help without feeling like I might be a
> burden.
>       If you'd like to try Aira
>       Due to the exchange rate between the United States and New Zealand,
>       unfortunately Aira is a little more expensive here than it is in the
> United
>       States. Bonnie and I are presently using the Plus plan, at $129 USD a
> month,
>       which equates to $179 NZD. When the novelty wears off a little, it
> will be
>       interesting to see if we need the 200 minutes.
>       So, if you would like to give Aira a try, I'd appreciate it if you'd
> sign up
>       using our referral link. The referral program means that the person
> being
>       referred, and the person who did the referring, each gets a free
> month.
>       Pretty good marketing. To take Aira for a spin, activate my referral
> link. I
>       hope it makes as much of a difference to you as it has to Bonnie and
> me.
>       Are you an Aira explorer? What do you think of the service, and what
> are
>       some of the ways you're using it? Leave your thoughts in the
> comments.
>
>
>       Original Article at:
>
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Cell: 985-271-2832
Skype: ron.brown762

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