Aira, the service that allows visually impaired users to stream live video to sighted staff in order to get assistance, has announced they will be dropping support for their Horizon glasses from April 1st. This means that from this date, they will no longer take any calls from users of the Horizon system.
In a post on the Aira website’s News section, Troy Otillio, CEO of Aira, explained the reasons for this decision:
1. The current Horizon Android smartphone no longer accommodates regular Horizon application updates so that means our Aira tech team does not have much control to improve the experience.
2. The model of smartphone that supports the Horizon system has been discontinued by Samsung so we must move on and find a new option.
3. As smartphones, like the latest iPhone, have transitioned away from physical buttons, finding a device to support a one-button access interface is a significant challenge.
So, what does that mean? It means that Aira’s smart glasses hardware solution is not meeting the Aira standard today and furthermore the Explorer experience with Horizon will continue to decline. Simply put, we need to find a new solution that better meets the demands of our Explorer community. With that, and after considerable analysis, I have decided that beginning on April 1, Aira will no longer support calls made from Horizon smart glasses. This change will allow our technical team to refocus on improving the core service.
The announcement goes on to explain that if you have bought your Horizon system outright, then Aira customer services will be in touch with you shortly, although it doesn’t go into any detail about what options will be available. They do make it clear however, that users will not have to return any hardware back to Aira.
Looking Beyond Horizon.
It is true that the Horizon System, although initially highly anticipated, did receive a mixed reaction from users. The ideal use case of a pair of wireless camera glasses that connect to any smart phone running the Aira app seems to be what most people want, but whether or not that’s even possible with current wireless connectivity and battery capacity remains to be seen.
So, the next question is naturally: If Horizon doesn’t meet the Aira standard, what will? We are aligning our hardware strategy with the mainstream devices that you all already use such as an iPhone, Android Smartphone and some new and emerging platforms. We would appreciate your help by sharing your thoughts on new devices and platforms, products and technologies that we should consider integrating into the Aira Explorer experience. Send them to email@example.com and Customer Care will gather a list of potential smart glasses or other devices to utilize in our future.
You can read the article on Aira’s website here.
Co-host & audio producer on the Double Tap Canada radio show. Occasional contributor to Double Tap TV, full time shed resident.