WATCH: Helping the blind ‘see’ the solar eclipse


Click here to watch the video.

On Aug. 21, people across the U.S. stepped outside and experienced one of nature’s most visual phenomena — a total solar eclipse. But, what about people who are blind?

The start-up Aira had a possible solution.

Aira came to the Connected Health AT&T Foundry to improve wireless connectivity for their ground-breaking platform, using smart glasses and remote technology to connect those with diminished vision. The user, called an Aira Explorer, taps on the glasses to connect to an Aira agent who offers assistance. Using a video camera, the agents can “see” from the wearer’s perspective in near real time. Then, the agent can communicate back to the wearer.

On Aug. 21, a Nashville-based Aira Explorer stepped outside, connected with his Aira agent and began to experience the eclipse through his mind’s eyes. The conversation broadcasted live, sharing the audio eclipse experience for all.

But we didn’t want to stop there, so AT&T tapped Georgia Tech’s Sonification Lab to develop a soundtrack built using eclipse data. Think of it as an eclipse soundtrack driven by data. In lab, the team of students and researchers, based out of the School of Psychology and School of Interactive Computing, has been taking images and data points from past eclipses and turning them into sounds that showcase what is happening in the sky.

So, while millions watched the sky, people who are blind were able to listen as the sun and moon created a symphony of their own. A symphony that will now, through the power of technology and the AT&T network, be more accessible to all.

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