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Subtitle glasses: The end of simultaneous translation

Subtitle glasses: The end of simultaneous translation

Our World | On 16, Nov 2011

Working on numerous conference events means that we are always looking for new and exciting gadgets that could help enhance the audience experience. Recently I stumbled upon a new gadget that Sony was creating: subtitle glasses.

Now I know this might not sound like the most exciting news of the year, but trust me, the possibilities for this concept could change the face of conference delivery in the future.

Sony has tried to solve a long term issue that has plagued individuals with a hearing impediment for years. Enjoying the visual experience of the cinema is one thing, but these individuals certainly don’t enjoy the inconvenient times that films with subtitles are shown. This often leads to them simply buying the DVD and watching it at home, missing out on the full cinema experience.

Sony’s new subtitle glasses might have solved this issue. The glasses work by projecting words onto the glasses of the individual wearing them and thus reduces eye fatigue. Traditionally, theatres only show subtitled movies during off hours, or not at all in some cases. This is driven by regular viewers preferring to not have them on the screen while they’re watching movies. Originally designed for deaf cinema goers, these glasses could be adapted to create a solution for multi-lingual conference audiences.

Sony are testing the glasses in cinemas around the US, with the intention of bringing them over to the UK sometime next year. Initial reviews have been positive and apparently the subtitles look as if they are on the screen. More importantly they are very clear and easy to read. The glasses may look bulky, but rest assured they’re light and can be worn with an existing pair.

How could this affect conferences in the future I hear you ask? Well there are a number of benefits that I can gauge from this. Firstly any conference that uses simultaneous translation will be able to translate the content/speeches and provide subtitles in multiple languages. Thus doing away with bulky, awkward headsets and avoiding the cost of translator’s onsite. This also helps to make the presenters more at ease, as they don’t have to be conscious of translators keeping up with the pace of their presentation.

Another benefit is that anyone with a hearing impediment/hard of hearing can opt for the new eyewear and not have to strain to make out what the presenters actually said. Let’s face it with an ageing population; Sony may have tapped into something way ahead of its time.

Subtitle glasses have the potential to really change the output of a simple conference. Not only creating a buzz about using the latest technology but also helping an individual understand the content of the day in far more detail than they ever would if they struggled with a foreign language. It may signal the end of translation booths onsite altogether.

Claire Cutlack