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【METI Mobile】Bringing down barriers to the movies for 650 million people

Picture of a woman wearing the headsets fitted with special glasses

Alongside the glittering red-carpet movie premiers, the 2015 Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) held from October 22-31 also showcased a new “barrier free” technology designed to bring the joys of cinema-going to the visually and hearing impaired.

Cinema offers shared experience
People with visual and hearing disabilities can’t enjoy the movies without special subtitles or acoustic amplification. Yet there are very few cinemas equipped to accommodate customers with these kinds of special needs so they have don’t have opportunities to go to the movies with their families and friends.
Personalized subtitles and audio tracks
Picture showing the description of the audio displayed by the special glasses
This year’s TIFF included a special screening to demonstrate an App that connects smart phones with headsets fitted with special glasses to offer users viewing experiences matched to their individual special needs. For those with hearing disabilities, the special glasses display descriptive subtitles that appear on the screen. And those with vision impairments can listen to descriptive audio tracks through headphones. The app synchronizes the descriptive subtitles and audio tracks with the action on the screen to prevent any time-lags. This system was developed in Japan by private companies working with a non-profit organization. It gives people with hearing and visual impairments the opportunity to laugh and cry at the cinema alongside other moviegoers.
METI support
There are an estimated 650 million people worldwide with visual or hearing impairments and in Japan some 640,000 citizens are registered with these disabilities. And in countries like Japan there are a growing number of senior citizens who require visual and hearing aids to continue to fully enjoy a trip to the movies.
As part of efforts to vitalize the Japanese film industry, METI is engaged in a range of initiatives to promote new technologies that give everyone the opportunity to experience the thrill of watching the latest movie at the cinema.
Last updated: 2015-12-17
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
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