Lyft Wants to Use Augmented Reality Tech to Aid the Visually Impaired

‘Smart glasses’ will deliver information to visually-impaired riders.

byStephen Edelstein| PUBLISHED Dec 20, 2017 11:40 AM
Lyft Wants to Use Augmented Reality Tech to Aid the Visually Impaired

Lyft wants to make it easier for visually-impaired people to hail rides. The company is partnering with Aira, which provides services to people with visual impairments using augmented-reality glasses and remote human assistants.

Aira's "smart glasses" will provide "essential ride information" to users, according to a Lyft blog post. Aira customers using Lyft for the first time can also get $5 off of their first two rides with the promo code "AIRA."

Aira explained things a bit more thoroughly in its own blog post. Users will be able to connect with a live person, who can help book the ride and generally provide assistance. The glasses provide the Aira agent with information, such as the user's location, needed to book a ride and direct the user to the pickup location.

Agents provide information such as a location for pickup, estimated pickup time, and estimated fare. They can also provide the driver's name and rating, and a description of the vehicle. It's basically all of the information you get on the Lyft app dashboard but presented in a way that's accessible for visually-impaired people.

The Aira partnership builds on Lyft's efforts to help hearing-impaired drivers. Working with the National Association for the Deaf, it developed a device that uses visual cues to alert drivers of new rides, rather than audible pings. Lyft also tells riders ahead of time to use text messaging instead of voice calls if their driver is hearing impaired.

Lyft has attempted to position itself as a morally-responsible alternative to its larger competitor, Uber, which has been racked by scandals all year. Efforts to help the disabled at least make Lyft's claims to be the "woke" ride-sharing company more than just a cheap marketing ploy.