Sony unveils new eyeglasses for displaying movie subtitles

Aug 26, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

( -- 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.

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User comments : 9

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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."
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 26, 2011
I would totally be behind these glasses, as I am hearing impaired myself.
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.
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.
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".
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"....
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 !!)
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?
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.

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