Founder and President,
Aira (Aira Tech Corp)
Honoree Year: 2020
University of California, San Diego
Rady School of Management
Area of Impact:
When Suman Kanuganti (MBA ’14) arrived at the Rady School of Management, he knew he wanted to leave with an idea that would change the world—he just wasn’t sure where to start. An impactful course in entrepreneurship incited Kanuganti to pull from his experience to address a societal need. A question was posed to the class: How can entrepreneurship inspire positive change in the lives of others?
Motivated by a perseverant friend with deteriorating vision, Suman decided to use his engineering skills to help empower visually impaired individuals to achieve their full potential. Launched by Kanuganti in 2015, Aira was created to help visually impaired individuals navigate the world with more freedom and autonomy. By leveraging leading technologies, such as smart glasses and mobile devices, Aira connects users with a network of trained remote human agents to provide them with instant access to information and assistance in the physical and digital world, when and where they want it.
Aira is one of today’s fastest-growing assistive communities, revolutionizing travel, commuting, and shopping for visually impaired individuals. Aira users are able to connect to agents who are able to see a user’s location and surroundings, providing a clear, live auditory narrative of the user’s environment in virtually any daily activity.
Through partnerships with Lyft, airports, Walgreens, universities (including the University of California San Diego), sports stadiums, museums, and other lifestyle venues, Aira has brought its assistive service to millions across the U.S. and around the world. As the technologist and innovator who co-founded and serves as president of Aira Tech Corp., Kanuganti is reducing barriers and empowering people who are blind or have low vision to fully engage, explore, and experience the visual world.
Kanuganti is an active alumnus at the Rady School of Management, and has hired five other Rady School alumni to Aira. He has also worked with Rady School faculty to host two capstone projects for the Master of Science in Business Analytics. In addition, Kanuganti has spoken at several events to share his story with students, including a TEDxUCSD talk in 2017.