Aira, a La Jolla, California company, is collaborating with AT&T to develop and test a solution designed to help people who are blind or have low vision to read important text, such as labels on medication bottles. The companies are working through the AT&T Foundry to develop the solution.
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Nearly 60 percent of Americans take prescription drugs. Correctly reading the dosage instructions and other information printed on their labels is very important.
The system relies on Aira’s augmented reality (AR) smartglasses fitted with a camera, which allows people with low vision to talk with a remote agent over a cell phone connection. The agent, who serve as visual interpreters for the blind people, can view the user’s environment through the camera mounted on the glasses, and speak to them through an earpiece. Interacting with an agent can help users to make sense of their environment, or perform specific tasks such as crossing the street, running a marathon, or reading a bedtime story, reports Medgadget.
One of the most requested features among Aira’s customers is medication recognition. With this in mind, AT&T has created an AI (Artificial Intelligence) platform to help people who are blind to correctly identify prescriptions and over-the-counter medications, reducing their reliance on human agents for text recognition tasks. The system, called Chloe, can automatically read text and relay it to the user through their earpiece. Users simply state “Hey Chloe, read this” while holding the text in view of the camera, and the AI system will do the rest, using algorithms to analyze and comprehend the text.
“Aira was the first commercial project out of our Foundry for Connected Health. Since launching a year ago, the combination of Aira’s groundbreaking assistive technology and our highly secure wireless connectivity has unleashed new possibilities,” said Nadia Morris, director of the AT&T Foundry for Connected Health. “Now we’re back at it again to develop a solution that we hope will offer people with vision challenges greater efficiency and accuracy with medication management.”
Greg Stilson, Director of Product Management at Aira said the camera provides an Aira agent a 120-degree field of view, as compared to their previous glasses option which provided a 65-degree field of view. “The glasses connect to the dedicated horizon phone for two reasons, one, the phone battery is what drives the glasses. This allows an explorer to use the Aira service for up to 7 hours of video streaming. And two, it is possible now to use Aira even if you are not a smart phone user. In the past, a user had to download the Aira app to use the service. With Horizon this is no longer a requirement. Someone can literally purchase the service, put on the glasses and double press the call button on the Horizon phone and they will be connected to an Aira agent instantly. This drastically reduces the learning curve,” Stilson told MedGadget.
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The new medication reader will be available for use in conjunction with Aira Horizon Smart Glasses, Aira’s next generation wearable using Voice First technology. Aira Horizon Smart Glasses, which will be available in May, will have built-in “Hey Chloe” functionality and will come paired with an Aira-dedicated smartphone, powered by AT&T.