App Review: Aira Explorer

The Aira Explorer app is a visual interpreting service that connects people with blindness and visual impairment with professionally-trained advisors to assist them with tasks and activities that would benefit from some extra visual information.

The key feature that makes the app so useful for the visually impaired is its real-time video streaming that gives advisors an immersive view of the user’s surroundings. This allows advisors to provide highly detailed descriptions and navigation guidance tailored to the user’s immediate environment. The app also reads screen text aloud and has adjustable colour contrast and text sizing options to further aid accessibility. 

Once installed from your app store, you’ll be credited with a free 5-minute call to help you test if Aira is the right product for you. Simply tap the call button and you’ll be connected with one of their advisors ready to assist or simply answer your questions about the service.

Whilst free to download, users must set up a subscription to become an “Explorer,” and receive monthly minutes based on their plan’s tier. Prices range from 15 monthly minutes for £54.00, all the way to 800 monthly minutes for £2,407.

Explorers can also purchase additional minutes if they are close to exhausting their monthly allowance, with prices stretching from 25 minutes for £83 to 100 minutes for £313.

In your first call after subscribing, the advisor will go through some physical training with the app, learn about your preferences and needs, and then go about conducting their first task. This can be anything from reading, describing the contents of a cupboard, or even helping you find somewhere new. If it can be captured on your phone’s camera, Aira’s Advisors can help.

You can find more information about the onboarding process here in module six of their audio training series.

Reviews of the app on both Apple and Andriod are glowing, featuring a majority of five-star reviews with some users calling it, “visual interpreting at its best.” We thought the high price point might be a bit more of an issue here, but the overwhelmingly positive reviews seldom even mention the cost.

Despite this high price, Aira offers a range of free calls as part of their mission to get more people with sight loss back into work and take back some agency over their own lives. These calls cover tasks related to searching for a new job such as updating resumes, submitting applications on inaccessible websites, checking appearances, and even free interview practice.

Not only that, but small business owners are also eligible for 150 free minutes a month to use on eligible tasks related to their work as someone self-employed.

In summary, Aira Explorer is a powerful tool that provides invaluable assistance to those with visual impairments through on-demand access to professional advisors. The concept of live-streaming video and GPS to connect users with a pair of eyes whenever needed is groundbreaking and already helping many people the world over.

Reviews make clear this can be transformative, giving independence, confidence and quality of life back to many of its users and the sheer breadth of tasks covered, from reading mail to navigating new places, offers support in almost any situation imaginable.

The subscription pricing may be prohibitively expensive for some, especially when used more regularly. The free call options help offset this, but won’t meet all your needs. Whereas apps like Be My Eyes provide a more affordable, volunteer-based alternative, albeit without the same depth of training and availability.

Overall, for those who can afford the subscription, Aira Explorer stands out as a best-in-class solution for assisting the visually impaired; but more budget-friendly competition is growing fast.