Wellington Airport launches free virtual assistant for visually impaired passengers

Wellington Airport passengers walking
The app will help visually impaired passengers get around Wellington Airport better

Visually impaired passengers at Wellington Airport now have access to a free virtual assistant when travelling through the airport.

The virtual assistant will offer advice on navigating through the airport and assist with finding specific locations like gates, retail outlets and airport facilities like check-in counters and toilets. The assistant can also provide live information on any updates that may affect a passenger’s journey.

Wellington Airport is the first airport in New Zealand, and the second outside the United States, to launch this service and is providing it free of charge through US organisation Aira.

According to General Manager of Aeronautical Operations, Ayolt Wiertsema using the virtual assistant means passengers who are visually impaired don’t have to rely so heavily on others to assist them: “Feedback we’ve received says it provides a sense of freedom to do what all travellers like to do, grab a bite to eat or find what they need before a flight.”

To access the service, passengers can download the Aira app on their smartphone or access through Horizon smart glasses.

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.

Other international airports offering the app include Heathrow, San Diego, Milwaukee Mitchell, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby

N.B. Image credit: Wellington Airport

Internet links

Wellington Airport (WLG)

Aira