TECHNOLOGY

Wegmans uses mobile technology to assist blind shoppers

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A regional supermarket retailer is taking an innovative approach to customer inclusion.

Through a partnership with San Diego-based startup Aira, Wegmans Food Markets now offers the Aira Supermarket Network, a platform that delivers real-time visual descriptions to blind customers or those with low vision — a move that enables customers to shop independently. Wegmans is the first supermarket in the United States to adopt the technology.

Here’s how the platform works: Once shoppers download the Aira app onto their smartphone, they can use it to connect to a remote, sighted agent who will deliver store information on-demand. Using a live camera stream, GPS, maps, and information sourced from the web, agents can help shoppers navigate the store, find specific items, and identify the shortest checkout lines.

The technology is free, and available in all of Wegmans’ 97 stores.

“At Wegmans, we are committed to providing incredible customer service to all our shoppers,” said Linda Lovejoy, community relations manager for Wegmans. “Our partnership with Aira helps us deliver on this commitment, giving our blind and low-vision customers access to this innovative service and the ability to navigate our stores easily and efficiently.”

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