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AIRA, Starbucks’ new service for the visually impaired

Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
3 minutes

How to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities? It is sometimes not that easy to provide the right services in-store. We remember the quiet hours for people with autism set up by several supermarkets or even Ikea’s 3D printing service in Israel with door handles more suitable for opening its cupboards. It’s Starbucks turn with Aira Service, a remote in-store guide service to help visually impaired people.

Remote assistance thanks to your smartphone camera

Want a coffee at Starbucks but you are visually impaired and your memory is failing to remember the menu or all the possible options? Now, if you walk into one of the chain stores that is testing the service, you can behave like any customer and easily place your order.

How? Thanks to the Aira app, which connects you remotely with an employee. All you need to do is activate the app upon entering the store for a third eye. From a far, a trained visual interpreter becomes the eyes of the customer and can guide them to the counter avoiding steps and other customers, read menus or describe the various pastries in the display case. The smartphone’s camera allows the visual interpreter to see the surroundings and best guide the visually impaired person.

starbucks aira mal voyants

In addition, this application has reassured people using the service about respecting social distances or staying in the right place to comply with health protocols at a time of health crisis.

Starbucks will also launch new large print and braille menus through a partnership with National Braille Press. The brand also intends to adapt its website and mobile application by adding features such as image descriptions or any information allowing the visually impaired person to better plan their visit.


Will Starbucks be the brand of the year? After announcing its new concept in New York combining a Starbucks café counter, an Amazon Go cashless mini-market and nomadic workspaces, the brand continues to work on eliminating the wait. The first purpose is to provide consumers with useful time so that … they can land in co-working spaces.

With Aira, Starbucks is also showing that it can innovate to create a unique relationship with each of its consumers. Inclusion is at the heart of the customer journey, who once again takes pleasure in tasting a pastry or a coffee with confidence. The massive deployment shows that this is not just an anecdote. The Aira service is one of the most widely used by the blind and visually impaired.




These two developments once again illustrate the importance for brands and retailers to position themselves as a provider of solutions. What will Starbucks look like in a few years? How will consumers define this brand? A café, a mini-market, a co-working space or all of that and more at the same time?

The transformation of the world of commerce has only just begun!

Elisabeth MENANT
Innovation Trends Manager
To explore with you the transformation of retail with a double approach both editorial and business
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