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UCSD Offers Free Seeing-Eye Service to Students


With the first day of classes a little more than a week away, UC San Diego is becoming one of the first campuses to help its students see through the eyes of a stranger.

“I was legally blind ever since I was a little kid,” Jimmy Kong, a senior at UCSD.

He may not be able to see but that hasn’t stopped from double majoring. Kong is now in his final few classes at UCSD but this quarter, when he walks around campus, he won’t be alone.

The school is partnering with Aira, an app from a local tech company, that lets an agent see what Kong can’t through his phone’s camera and relay that to him.  

With a touch of a button, Kong connects to the app and an agent picks up, giving him instant access to his surroundings.

“They can tell you move a little bit to your left, move a little bit to your right to avoid poles, cars, or signs even,” Kong said.

Aira Tech Corp has users around the world but UCSD is the first college campus to offer the service for free, picking up the tab for anyone who uses it, whether they’re students, staff members or visitors.

Kong, however, uses it for more than just navigation. Agents can describe how people look.

“I ask Aira to describe my friends, what types of hairstyles they have, what they’re wearing,” he said.

He even had this question recently in a campus housing laundry room.

“Hey, I was wondering if you see any of my clothes? If I left anything behind?”

Every day Kong finds a new way to the use the technology, clearing the way for a world of new opportunity.

A paid subscription service, Aira is also available for free at several locations in San Diego, including Lindbergh Field and the Convention Center.

Photo Credit: NBC 7
Source: NBC San Diego

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