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Sony caption-display glasses rolling out to 6000 Regal Cinemas

Caption display glasses

Good news for hearing-impared film fans: Regal Cinemas will ready closed-caption glasses to well over 6 000 cinemas by month end, says Think of the glasses as 3D lenses for the ears — captions are displayed on the glasses and will look as if they are floating ten feet away from the user. The video below neatly demonstrates the power of the Sony-powered caption glasses.

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The lightweight (but very large) glasses produce “private” closed caption text for both 3D and 2D film. The captions are wirelessly synched to Sony’s digital projector system. There’s volume control for the hard of hearing, plus descriptive audio tracks for the visually-impaired. The service can be accessed on any film, on the provision that captions and descriptive text have been included with the digital print. Users can check online at the Regal Cinema site for availability of the caption glasses.

For the visually and hearing impaired, this is a convenient step in the right direction. It’s not the only theatre to offer these services as the US-based AMC theaters offers an FM-radio that broadcasts the audio track to wireless receivers in the audience. AMC Theaters also provides a closed-captioning service, but it’s displayed on a small screen located next to the cup holder, which besides being a distraction to everyone else, is just not as cool as a caption-projecting glasses.

Regal Cinema CEO Randy Smith Jr. has been working on the caption-display glasses for well over a decade, as it was his goal to “develop a technology that would allow accessibility to the deaf and blind for every show time, for every feature.” Together with his hearing-impaired son, Smith would spend ten years testing the Sony prototypes with his son.

The downside is the price. At US$1750 per set, the caption-display glasses represent a sizable investment for Regal Cinemas. Despite this, Regal has been slowly rolling out the glasses since last year, and film fans can pickup the glasses at the Guest Services counter. Compared to the headache-inducing nightmare that is 3D film, the captions glasses represent a genuine advance in accessibility technology.

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