Sony unveils new eyeglasses for displaying movie subtitles

Aug 26, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- Granted, movie subtitles aren’t something most people think about. In fact most groan when they find a movie they’ve paid to see suddenly starts projecting text at the bottom of the screen as it means they’ve entered the dreaded “foreign” zone. For others with hearing difficulties though, subtitles mean the difference between being able to watch a movie, or not. It’s for this latter group that Sony UK has been busy at work coming up with eyeglasses that can be worn that display the subtitles, unbeknownst to the rest of the audience.

The glasses work by projecting the words onto the glasses of the person wearing them in such a way as to not necessitate the wearer having to constantly adjust for near and far; something that would cause enormous eye fatigue. Instead, the effect is almost the same as if the words were projected onto the screen.

Charlie Swinbourne, a person with a hearing impairment, was recently asked by the BBC to give them a go at a Sony test site. He reported that it was a great experience and that it would likely create a whole new viewing audience of movie goers as the deaf community would find them very welcome.

Traditionally, subtitles for movies at theaters for the hard of hearing have only been available during off hours, or not at all, as regular viewers prefer to not have them on the screen while they’re watching. The result has been frustration for such viewers who generally wind up having to rent the video and watch it at home.

The new glasses might be more popular even than Sony expects as they likely aren’t taking into account the aging baby boomer population who quite often find themselves having trouble hearing parts of movies and would appreciate some help from subtitles (especially when there are accents involved). The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) recently ran an article in its monthly newsletter detailing how many older Americans have quit going to the theater to watch movies for this very reason.

It also seems the glasses would have another advantage over traditional subtitles and that is the ability to move the words a bit when they are blocking some of the action, something that happens more often than some might think.

It also seems conceivable that such glasses could also be used for watching translated movies, (as well as live theater and/or opera) rather than running the subtitles on the screen, and who knows, if the technology really takes off, maybe some of the big names streaming content over the web might start making subtitling an option.

Sony says the glasses should be available in the U.K. sometime next year, and if they catch on, the rest of the world sometime after that.

Explore further: Reflected smartphone transmissions enable gesture control

Related Stories

Sony, Panasonic, Samsung in 3D glasses deal

Aug 09, 2011

Japan's Sony and Panasonic and South Korea's Samsung Electronics said Tuesday they will jointly develop new standards for glasses used to watch 3D images on television, computer and movie screens.

Foreign subtitles improve speech perception

Nov 11, 2009

Do you speak English as a second language well, but still have trouble understanding movies with unfamiliar accents, such as Brad Pitt's southern accent in Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds? In a new study, published ...

Sony working on 3-D TVs that don't need glasses

Aug 26, 2010

(AP) -- Sony Corp. is working on 3-D televisions that don't need special glasses, joining a race with rival Toshiba Corp., but sees cost and technological hurdles to overcome before they can go on sale.

Zediva taps loophole, offers new movies online

Mar 16, 2011

A California startup is making new hit movies such as "The Fighter" available for instant viewing online through a loophole: It lets customers rent a DVD and a player that are actually located in the Silicon Valley.

A 3-D headache or family fun?

May 13, 2011

With the recent release of Nintendo’s new 3DS, a handheld gaming system, and the popularity of movies like “Thor” and “Avatar,” the use of 3-D technology has increased over the past ...

Recommended for you

Google to test cars without a driver

Sep 16, 2014

Google plans to begin testing its new prototype of a self-driving car - which, unlike earlier models, doesn't require a back-up driver - at NASA's Ames Research Center, just a few miles from the tech company's ...

Self-driving cars now need a permit in California

Sep 16, 2014

Computer-driven cars have been testing their skills on California roads for more than four years—but until now, the Department of Motor Vehicles wasn't sure just how many were rolling around.

Index ranks Japan Asia's most efficient innovator (Update)

Sep 12, 2014

A new index ranks Japan as the most efficient among Asian countries in turning the building blocks of creativity into tangible innovations that benefit their economies and people while Myanmar, Pakistan and Cambodia are least ...

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

askantik
4.9 / 5 (7) Aug 26, 2011
I'm going to fix the second sentence for you:

"In fact most [douchebags] groan when they find a movie theyve paid to see suddenly starts projecting text at the bottom of the screen as it means theyve entered the dreaded 'foreign' zone."
DominusDeus
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2011
I would totally be behind these glasses, as I am hearing impaired myself.
LKD
5 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2011
I am fully in support of this. A lot of movies have mumbling characters, important conversations during noisy parts. At home, I never watch a movie without them, and I have very good hearing.
david_42
not rated yet Aug 26, 2011
LKD is 100% on. Plus, most people cannot shut-up during a movie, making it impossible to hear what little is enunciated correctly and loudly enough over the background noise of the movie itself.
TheCyndicate
not rated yet Aug 26, 2011
Sure, this all sounds great, until Sony starts removing certain languages from its support after the launch, and start selling them to make a buck.

Like how they removed the "Other OS" from the launch PS3 consoles, AFTER they were already purchased, with a FORCED firmware update.

I love my PS3, I hate the XBox, but Sony is a horrible company. You shouldn't even report things from them as "News".
EdMoore
not rated yet Aug 26, 2011
Yes, LKD... "I am fully in support of this. A lot of movies have mumbling characters". My hearing is quite good, I've studied three foreign languages, and I still can't follow the conversations of the "mumbling actors"....
Nik_2213
5 / 5 (2) Aug 26, 2011
D'uh, how would they cope with some-one who already wears glasses ?
Well, Google has just tracked down a pic of the prototype, and they look like over-sized frames with a tiny 'black box' on the side-arms beside your eye-sockets. At the moment, they do not seem compatible with spectacles, although getting prescription lenses fitted may be a minor expense compared to the hardware's price. However, as prescription lenses are concave, convex and/or cylindrical, adjusting the micro-projectors' focus may be non-trivial...
( Remember Hubble !!)
shwhjw
not rated yet Aug 26, 2011
So i guess... more battery-powered glasses? The 3d shutter-glasses are a enough of a scam in themselves and like another opst, what would you do if you already wear glasses? What if you wear glasses and want to see a 3d film with ANOTHER pair of these ST glasses?
matheuu
5 / 5 (1) Aug 26, 2011
I would definitely get a pair. Fantastic idea. Been travelling around the world a fair bit and only understand English, sucks not being able to take a local bird out to the cinema, well you can, and I have but I didnt understand a thing... and not all good flicks are in English. Would be great to see a French movie in France... and understand it.