Aira, a smartphone app for the blind, begins trials in Australia, New Zealand

Blind and vision impaired Australians can look forward to everyday life becoming a lot easier. This is thanks to the smartphone app, Aira, that could act as their virtual eyes.

A United States-based start-up, Aira is partnering with Vision Australia in conducting trials of its hands-free, wearable technology in Australia and New Zealand. These are the first countries to trial it outside the US.

Using smart glasses or a smartphone, vision-impaired people beam a live stream to an operator who in effect becomes their eyes, talking them through their environment step by step.

Fifteen blind and low-vision Australians put the technology to test.

Aira developers say that the app promotes greater independence and access for people who are blind or have low vision as it offers immediate assistance for almost anything without a sighted person nearby.

The technology could be used to help people safely move around busy and heavily populated areas such as airports, train stations and shopping centres.

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