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For the blind, smart glasses offer a clear path ahead – CNET

This is part of our Road Trip 2017 summer series “The Smartest Stuff,” about how innovators are thinking up new ways to make you — and the world around you — smarter. 

Tiny drops of rain hit my face as I run through the sleepy residential neighborhood of Littleton, Massachusetts, about an hour’s drive north of Boston. There’s a slight incline to the pavement as it curves to the right. It’s only been about five minutes, but I’m already tired and wet as I jog down the middle of a quiet street lined with Cape Cod-style houses on a gray and soggy afternoon in May.

I’ve never been to Littleton before and I have no idea where I’m going. Erich Manser, an IBM researcher who competes in marathons and Ironman competitions for the fun of it, runs beside me. He’s wearing an orange hoodie with a fluorescent yellow bib that says “BLIND” in black bold lettering. I can’t help thinking that this is really a case of the blind leading the blind.

At 6-feet-2, he towers over my 5-feet-7-inches. His long, easy stride highlights the fact that I’m not a runner (I hate running) and showcases how much time I spend binge-watching shows on Netflix.


Erich Manser shows me around his neighborhood of Littleton, Massachusetts, where he trained for the Boston Marathon with his Google Glass and a remote guide from Aira.

Nicholas Henry/CNET