Live subtitles and augmented reality for theatrical works
Subtitles reflect the evolution of our society. This is why technological initiatives that highlight subtitling attract our attention. Subtitles logically tell us that a society can read. The author Rummer Godden, rightly said that “When you learn to read you will be born again…and you will never be quite so alone again.”
Today, we have better access to information and entertainment. Thanks in particular to new technologies and the Internet. Subtitled videos can easily be found in other languages. But it goes further! Now, thanks to augmented reality, people who are deaf or hard of hearing will be able to enjoy a play. This is the crazy bet of the Japanese firm Epson and computer scientists in the United Kingdom. London’s Royal National Theatre now offers « smart glasses” within theatres to make them accessible. Building on this success, this will continue throughout the 2019 season.
How do smart glasses with accessible subtitles work?
This connected object makes accessible subtitles and allows hearing impaired to have a better theatrical experience. These glasses are made available free of charge during certain performances to spectators up to a maximum of fifty copies (their value is 1,050 dollars per pair).
During the play, you will see « floating » subtitles, automatically synchronized to the actors’ speech flow. This effect is achieved through augmented reality technology. The Theatre chose this experience, which was considered more « discreet and immersive » and which « would not disturb anyone ».
The contribution of speech recognition technology
Another important point is that this technology adapts to the production environment. It adapts in particular to lighting and sound signals. However, he still fails to synchronize the subtitles if the actors speak faster than the version of the subtitling program.
To solve this problem, Jonathan Suffolk, Technical Director of the National Theatre of London, emphasizes that speech recognition technology must be integrated. In this sense, speech recognition technology will undoubtedly be able to optimize the performance of these smart glasses.
It is this type of technology that we develop day after day at Authot. We offer our clients automatic transcription and subtitling for their videos. Moreover, thanks to the synchronization service, we offer accessible subtitles.
If you are interested in subtitling your audio or videos using technologies like Authôt, you can try our platform for free here (link to the application). And if you are looking to subtitle a live event, you can also contact us (contact link).
What future for these smart glasses and accessible subtitles?
This creation in itself deserves to be celebrated. Providing access to culture and technology is a human right. Everyone has the right to take part in and enjoy cultural life, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 15).
The future of these smart glasses may also cover another point of accessibility, such as language. Offering theatrical works with accessible subtitles in other languages opens the door to another type of art. This practice is already applied in other theatres around the world but not with augmented reality.
The interest here would be to contribute to cultural diversity and an even more accessible theatre, not to mention that it puts new technology in the hands of spectators to experience theatre in a different way.
Authôt. You speak. We write.