Houston airports helps vision-impaired passengers

Houston Airports augmented technology
A passenger using the wearable technology at Bush Airport

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby airports have introduced new technology to help blind and low vision passengers.

The airports have partnered with Aira, a subscription-based service providing wearable technology for the help blind and low vision (BLV) community.

Aira combines the power of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality with wearable technologies to enhance independence and mobility for those with vision loss.

Now, at both George Bush Intercontinental Airport and William P. Hobby Airport, subscribers to the Aira service will be able to use the technology free of charge.

Houston Airport System (the operator of both airports) has agreed to cover the cost of minutes used by Aira subscribers within the airport terminals through the end of 2018.

How it works

The Aira app and smart glasses connect passengers to a specially trained agent at a remote location, who sees a real-time livestream from the camera on the glasses or smart phone.

The agent narrates what is in the user’s field of vision, helping them with such tasks as navigating the terminal, locating and identifying luggage, reading flight boards, dining and shopping, and arranging ground transportation.

Here is a video from Aira showing how it works.


Jesus Saenz, Houston Airport System Chief Operating Officer:

“The Houston Airport System is constantly assessing how it can better enhance the airport experience. We work with our federal partners including the FAA – constantly reviewing and adapting the airport to exceed ADA standards.

“This partnership with Aira is one way of enhancing accessibility to a segment of the population that experiences blindness and low vision, and is another example of our efforts to go beyond the standard and truly make travel a great experience for everyone who comes through our airports.”

Tim Joniec, the Americans with Disabilities Act Coordinator for Houston Airports:

“Aira is a unique technology that gives users the information they need when they need it, and we are delighted to be able to offer this convenience to our passengers.”

Suman Kanuganti, CEO of Aira:

“Aira’s mission is to make information instantly accessible, anytime, anywhere. With more than 50 million passengers coming through Houston airports each year, this partnership will allow Aira’s technology to reach a huge number of people, enhancing the airport experience for travelers who are blind and low vision.

“We hope every airport in the nation will follow Houston’s lead and join the Aira Airport Network.”

N.B. Image credit: fly2houston.com

Internet links

Houston Airport System