The UK’s National Theatre Is Using Epson’s Smart Glasses To Improve Accessibility

Augmented reality smart glasses are helping to improve accessibility for those with hearing loss.

As augmented reality (AR) smart glasses continue to raise in popularity and application the likes of the Epson Moverio glasses are being used in interesting ways. One such use is the UK’s National Theatre using the technology to improve accessibility for their customers to make their offerings suitable for a wider audience and now this initiative is coming to fruition.

Epson Moverio BT-350

As reported by techradar, live performances throw up all sorts of difficulties for hard-of-hearing audience members who may find it hard to follow on with the action. Due to not having the ability to turn on any subtitles unlike when watching the media in after it has been recorded. It is estimated that eleven million people in the UK alone suffer from some degree of hearing loss with the number expect to grow in the future. Because of this, finding a solution to allow those with hearing loss to still be able to enjoy live performances needed to be found.

Though some accessibility options currently available rely on occasional captioned performances or visiting British Sign Language (BSL) translator, they are not perfect and scheduling these can create gaps. The UK’s National Theatre is leveraging the Epson Moverio BT-350 to describe the dialogue and sound effects happening onstage and provide a more robust accessibility option.

Epson Moverio BT-35E

The smart glasses provide a wearer with their own personal subtitles throughout the performance that follow the users gaze as they move around the stage. These subtitles are not just conversation between the actors but also stage directions informing viewers of additional context to the events on stage. The smart glasses also come with a built-in menu pane which can be accessed throughout a show allowing a user to pick the text size, colour, and placement on the display. Audience members also hold a small trackpad that works like a standard PC cursor and can call for assistance or play a short user tutorial from the menu as well.

Using the Epson Moverio smart glasses to improve accessibility for audience members of live performances is a positive step for the technology and will help make smart glasses more known to a wider consumer audience. VRFocus will be sure to bring you all the latest on AR technology in the future so stay tuned for more.

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