Aira.IO, a San Diego, CA-based visual interpreter for blind and low-vision individuals, closed a $790K seed financing round.
Backers included Lux Capital and ARCH Venture Partners.
The company intends to use the funds to develop personalized assistive technology and services.
Founded in 2014 by Larry Bock, Executive Chairman, and Suman Kanuganti, CEO, Aira.IO is a technology-enabled service designed to allow blind and low-vision users to gain greater independence in a wide range of daily activities. The company provides live assistance via a network of certified agents, plus family, friends, and volunteers.
Agents use a real-time interactive cloud-based “Mission control” dashboard built to communicate with users through the processing of live data streams from cameras, GPS, and other sensor systems from wearable platforms such as Google Glass and Vuzix.
The company said it has just completed a multi-phase beta trial testing its technology-enabled service with more than 100 blind and low-vision (BVI) users. The beta trials were conducted at various locations throughout Southern California, including the San Diego Center for the Blind (SDCB), and evaluated its assistive technology and services in simulated and actual real-life settings with BVI participants. These scenarios – in which participants were assisted by agents via Aira’s dashboard platform and users’ Google glasses – included: navigating busy city streets and intersections; being in a hotel, locating and identifying canned goods in a kitchen, selecting clothing in a simulated department store setting, shopping at a supermarket, ordering a beverage at a coffee shop, and traveling by foot and public transportation to specific locations.
Aira expects to make its services and technology available to the general public in mid-2016.