As we at CONNECT are getting excited about Most Innovative Product Awards 2017, we decided to catch up with some of our past MIP winners to talk about their MIP experience and where they are today. We will be featuring these conversations on the CONNECT blog.
Think you have what it takes to be the next MIP winner? Apply here!
There are an estimated 20 million blind and low-vision people in the United States, according to the American Foundation for the Blind. Aira's goal is to develop leading technology and services that help remove remaining barriers for the visually impaired, expanding their possibilities to live with greater confidence and independence. Aira develops transformative remote assistive technology that connects the blind with a network of certified agents via wearable smart glasses and an augmented reality dashboard that allows agents to see what the blind person sees in real time. Agents, serving as visual interpreters for the blind, help users accomplish a wide range of daily tasks and activities - from navigating busy streets to recognizing faces and literally traveling the world.
We caught up with Aira to discuss disruptive technology, milestones, and MIP.
Why did you apply to MIP?
CONNECT’s MIP is widely known as the premier award that recognizes and celebrates excellence in technological innovation in the San Diego region. Becauase of this prestige, receiving this award definitely helped accomplish our goal of being recognized as one of the area’s most innovative companies. In addition, the MIP also gave us the opportunity to come in contact with so many other talented, cutting-edge entrepreneurs and startups which are abundant in our region.
What was your favorite part about the MIP event?
Besides being selected a winner in the competition, the MIP event allowed us to showcase and demonstrate Aira’s disruptive technology – innovations which are helping to solve tangible (and often-forgotten) challenges that blind and visually impaired people face in accessing a wide range of real-time information and assistance in daily life.
What is one accomplishment/success you have had since you received the award?
We are proud that Aira, led by Co-Founder & CEO Suman Kanuganti, has gone on to win additional noted awards in the industry, including being named: winner of the 2016 Eureka Park Accessibility Award (CES/CTA); Best New Technology (by PC Magazine) at CES 2017; ‘Best in Show’ at the 2017 Mobile World Congress Expo in Barcelona; receiving Honorable Mention in the 2017 Chairman’s AAA Award of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); and winner of 2017 California State Fair’s Champion of Technology Award.
Any more noteable milestones?
In addition to this year celebrating the second anniversary of its founding, Aira in late 2016 officially launched its services commercially to blind and visually impaired users throughout the nation. This year also saw the company close on $12 million in Series B financing led by JAZZ Venture Partners and Arboretum Ventures.
Thanks to Aira and congratulations on your success!