New sub title technology has been developed by Kiwi researchers that allows the hearing-impaired to watch a movie at any cinema they like and not miss a line of dialogue, using a device called the Vivify headset.
The Vivify headset was developed by Marco Schnieder and Tony Tse, at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. It uses augmented reality to project subtitles below the cinema screen. A commercial trial of the headset is being run at the moment through Event cinemas in Newmarket, Auckland.
The idea for the device came out of a late-night conversation. Marco and Tony were planning to watch a movie and Tony, who is hearing impaired, said he wished more movies came with subtitles.
The current prototype model, which won the Velocity Challenge at the University of Auckland in 2015, is connected to an iPhone that comes with the headset, but if they can dispense with the phone it will make the headset lighter. The pair is also working on adding other languages and expect to have Chinese subtitles working by the end of June. They'd like to make the device more aesthetically pleasing.
Subtitle data is included in most movies, but cinemas in New Zealand rarely use it.
Conversations with movie goers and those in the cinema industry tell Marco and Tony that the headsets are likely to be very much in demand.
"We've received a lot of requests from across New Zealand, asking us to run trials in cinemas in their cities," says Marco. "It's very encouraging – people clearly want this technology."
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