Technologies in development

There are a small number of technologies on the market and in development that may provide cinema exhibitors with alternatives to current systems. A summary of some of them is below.

Personal interactive glasses

Personal interactive glasses is still a technology in its infancy but a number of companies have released models to display 3D movies, music videos, games and content from smartphones and tablets. The possibilities beyond this extend to viewing movie captions in cinemas as a personal captioning device.  

Interactive glasses are a concern for some cinema operators due to their ability to be able to record video as well. With piracy being an ongoing issue for the industry, the adoption of interactive glasses for in-cinema accessibility will need to be well managed and policed.

Sony’s HMZ is a personal, head-mounted display for 3D movies, music videos and games delivered on an OLED screen. The Vuzix Wrap 1200 is a similar product but this one will connect to your iPhone or iPad as well as an Android device. Epson’s Moverio glasses are already working with two companies (see ‘Apps for captions and audio description’ below) to deliver in-cinema access.

The other noteworthy development is Glass, by Google. Glass is a pair of glasses which uses voice recognition and displays information and media in the same way a smartphone does. Glass is not yet available to the public but the HMZ, Moverio and Wrap 1200 are.

Apps for captions and audio description

There are several smartphone apps, such as MovieReading, WhatsCine and Subtitles, by Structure6 for iPhone, available to view captions or subtitles. MovieReading and WhatsCine cater mainly for Italian and Spanish language markets respectively at this point. Both come with the option to view the captions through interactive glasses (Epson’s Moverio glasses) and synchronise the soundtrack via the app. However, Subtitles does not have this option and captions must be activated by the user.

Business models for these types of developments vary between the user being completely responsible for providing their own equipment and downloading access files, or cinemas lending ready-to-go devices.

Although these apps are in the market now there is yet to be a mass rollout in cinemas or adoption by a cinema chain as a permanent option.

Polarising glasses

A couple of new developments using the ultraviolet light spectrum to view captions through polarising glasses are seeking establishment in the UK and USA. invisibleCAPTIONS is being developed by students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. With this, captions are projected through a separate UV projector onto a black panel directly underneath the main picture screen. Only those wearing the customised glasses would see the captions.

Inventor Jack Ezra in the UK has developed the Off-Screen Cinema Subtitle System, which is similar to invisibleCAPTIONS, and hope to have a demonstration model available in late 2013.


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Tags: Cinema