Just in: Product labelling Gets a Facelift as WayAround and Aira Join Forces

Just in: Product labelling Gets a Facelift as WayAround and Aira Join Forces

By: Jack Falejczyk

Article Summary: There could be no better time to label your entire inventory at an affordable cost. Take the wheel with WayAround’s digital tags, and have Aira ride shotgun!

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes

How did we Get Here?

Anyone who has been blind throughout most if not all of their life has no doubt used braille or tactile labels for their home inventory. They obviously have the advantage of being around the longest, being relatively affordable, and aging well over time. However, one particular disadvantage lies within the food and clothing department; braille labels for these items allow little to no room for customization, so you are stuck with whatever information you can fit, or the predefined label text. This issue is most apparent with clothing labels as they only have enough space for extremely short abbreviations.
Labels have evolved significantly over the years. Several iterations of digital labels have been created that use a bar code scanner or a specific labelling device that knows how to communicate with them. These introduce a number of problems, however. Bar codes on store products are not tactile at all, and even with the wide laser beam in products such as the IDMate, scanning can be a challenge. Additionally these devices tend to come at a high price, and are running on outdated hardware and software (the IDMates are still running Windows CE, for example). Finally, color recognition hardware and software will never be full-proof. So, do we have a viable solution that is future-proof, or is labelling stuck in the past? Do we have news for you!

A Tale of Two Services with Similar Objectives

Aira, discussed in greater detail in various articles and courses on our site, is a well-known remote visual assistance service for the blind. WayAround is a brand new, innovative, future-proof labelling system. Through the help of a smartphone and affordable digital labels of many different kinds, one can label practically any item that needs labelling! Rather than using the camera or a bar code, these labels utilize NFC (near field communication) technology, the same technology that powers various tap-and-pay terminals at various retailers. The labels come in many different configurations, from strong-adhesive stickers to laundry-safe sewable buttons. A user can input several fields of information into the WayAround app, and write that information to a way tag affixed to an item by simply tapping the phone to the tag! From then on, when you tap your phone to the item, the description for the item will be read out by your phone’s screen reader. Where does Aira play into this, you might ask? Why, for identifying the object to be labelled, of course! Aira knows this, thus has partnered with WayAround to allow WayAround users ten minutes a day to obtain assistance from an agent in identifying the items that are to be labelled. The agent can describe various details about the item (food ingredients, laundry instructions, etc.). The agent can then email you the information obtained so that it can be pasted into the WayAround app while creating the label. It doesn’t get more streamlined than that!


It should certainly be said that the Aira and WayAround partnership is a winning combination. It provides the most affordable, most future-proof method to label your inventory. For Aira specifically, it once again shifts more of the cost away from the end-user so that financial barriers will not always stand in the way of remote visual assistance.
Overall, this is a step in the right direction that will lead to greater independence.


Aira VS Be my Eyes: Which is Better?

Aira VS Be my Eyes: Which is Better?

By:Jack Falejczyk

Article Summary:

We take an unbiased look at the two most well known remote visual assistance services, and which one is the better option.

Approximate Reading Time: 4 minutes

Aira? Be my Eyes? What is all this about, anyway?

WE’ve all heard of them, but there are many folks, particularly among the non-smartphone crowd, who may not know how these services can meet their needs. Not to worry; let us briefly describe these services and what they do!

Be my Eyes

This one was the first to surface publicly. The service provides remote visual assistance to anyone, regardless of region. The service connects blind and visually impaired users to volunteers in order to receive remote assistance.


Aira is probably the most well known, both for their top notch service and their considerable media coverage. Aira uses a team of professionally trained agents, large enough to run a 24/7 operation. In addition to the video feed itself, Aira agents have a multipurpose dashboard containing a satellite view of the environment, as well as online map integration. You used to be able to utilize smart-glasses along with a private sector of network access, but all models of the glasses are discontinued at the time of this writing. IT is our hope that a new, reliable wearable solution will make the rounds soon. Either way, the training these Aira agents go through insures that you can expect top-notch performance, no matter which agent picks up your call.

Comparing Benefits and Trade-offs

Aira and Be my Eyes are both reliable options, though the one to choose largely depends on the use case and the user’s needs. They are both cross-platform, though IOS may be higher priority than Android in many cases due to IOS’s popularity in the blindness circles. They both serve their purpose, to provide visual assistance for tasks that require it. However, there are certain factors that limit the tasks that one can perform with Be my Eyes when compared to Aira’s On my Terms mantra. Let’s take a look at specific scenarios to see which service you can trust over the other.

Who can I trust to help read a recipe with pictures?

Assuming none of your offline solutions were able to do the job, you could generally trust either service to help you with this. Both Aira and Be my Eyes do a good job reading text that you present to them. However, you may want to allocate more time to recipe reading when using Be my Eyes. Due to the fact Be My Eyes consists of a team of volunteers, there are no strict wait-time guidelines to adhere to. You might get connected within a minute of waiting one day, and then you might have to wait ten minutes the next day; it all depends on who is available when you call. With Aira, you almost always get an agent within thirty seconds or less. On the rare occasion that you are waiting longer than usual, a call will disconnect after ninety seconds of waiting, allowing you to try calling again. The long and short of it is that while you can trust both services to do the job, which service you use largely depends on how quickly you want your task completed, in this case the recipe.

My computer won’t speak, or I’ve ran into an inaccessible application. Who do I trust this time?

This one’s tricky. If a five second power outage toasts your Windows installation and it boots you into system restore, you might be able to get Be my Eyes to read your screen so you can press the necessary keys to get through the pre-boot interface. Again, Aira will get the job done faster, but Be my Eyes can work provided you have time to spare. For an inaccessible application or website, you should absolutely trust Aira over Be my Eyes in nearly every circumstance. Aira has the ability to connect to your computer remotely via a program called TeamViewer. The agent can then read what is on your screen, and control your computer so as to help you through this inaccessible task. How is this safe, you ask? Aira’s proactive approach to customer safety and privacy includes a nondisclosure contract that agents must adhere to. A volunteer for Be my Eyes does not have that legally binding agreement to sign, meaning that you would not be able to trust them to remote into your machine.

I need to locate my transit card or state ID. Does Aira take the cake this time?

Indubitably. Again, you really want to make sure you are dealing with a service that has your privacy in mind. It should be noted that you have the ability to opt out of having your calls recorded for quality assurance and training purposes, either on a case-by-case basis or across the board.

What about outdoor navigation?

Aira is the best and safest option out of the two. There is no guarantee that every volunteer on Be my Eyes knows exactly how to give proper, concise directions for navigation. Additionally, Aira agents are contractually obligated to stay quiet while you are crossing streets; this insures maximum safety.

In closing:

The main takeaway is that each scenario brings forth various considerations that may make one service preferable over the other. Generally speaking, weigh each situation carefully, and pick the option that makes the most sense. While the cost of Aira may be prohibitive in some circumstances, there are more opportunities than ever before to gain subsidized access through the Aira access network, with more being added regularly. Freedom of choice is slowly but surely gaining ground between these two platforms.
So, pick the service that works best for you, and then go do that thing!