How I Experienced the Super Bowl Halftime Show Using Smart Glasses Technology

Super Bowl 2019 logoI’m not much of a football fan. I am, however, a huge fan of new assistive technology, especially when you can try it out for free. That’s why I brought my smart phone and headphones along to our neighborhood Super Bowl party last night: AIRA had a special offer to allow anyone to listen in on its Virtual Super Bowl party free of charge. AIRA calls itself a “visual interpreter for the blind,” and you usually need to subscribe to AIRA to connect with their trained sighted guides to have them describe stuff for you. Last night, you didn’t need to be an AIRA subscriber to listen, though. All I had to do was call a toll-free number and I was in. No need for Smart Glasses, either — someone at the game would be wearing them, and my Smart Phone would allow me to hear what that spectator was seeing . Here’s how the AIRA web site describes it:

“The trained agents see the world through the smart glass worn by the customer and describe the view. They respond to requests for information from the user, working at a specially-designed dashboard that efficiently connects to information via the video camera, GPS, and other sources of data.”

AIRA offered the free service during the Super Bowl last year, too, when Greg Stilson, a blind football fan, was at the game in Minneapolis. Stilson wore smart glasses with an embedded video camera during the game, and I listened in at home as trained and certified AIRA agents who weren’t at the game used smartphones and portable WiFi hotspot technology to describe what was in front of Greg remotely in real-time. I was a little disappointed by the whole thing last year — it seemed a bit silly to have the AIRA trained and certified agents describe the game when I could just turn the radio or television on and listen to the announcers.

This year AIRA left the game itself to the announcers. Someone at the game was wearing Smart Glasses, though, and the certified describers were on hand for the pre-game, halftime and post-game activities.

Must admit, I did get a kick (excuse the football pun there) out of hearing a professional try to describe all that was happening on the field during halftime!

To the amusement (more likely, the annoyance) of my sighted friends watching halftime on TV at the Super Bowl party, I repeated the descriptions I was hearing in my headphones out loud for them in rapid succession. “Panning the audience on the field – mostly young girls,” “A fire igniting in front of the stage!” “Adam Levine shuffling, I guess dancing, around the stage with just a microphone, no guitar,” “Young girls freaking out in the audience,” “Lanterns, pink and blue, out in the stands, everywhere,” “Big Boy driving up in a big car, maybe a Cadillac?” “A gospel choir assembling on stage,” “Big Boy getting out of the car, wearing a big fur coat!” “Another fire igniting, this one to the side of the stage!” “Adam Levine’s shirt is off, young girls are flanking him!” It was ridiculous. So ridiculous that I got a good laugh out of it all. And thanks to AIRA, I got to be part of the fun.


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