It's such a good idea you wonder why no one thought of it earlier.
Sennheiser launches CinemaConnect, a live-streaming solution that provides cinema-goers with audio description and hearing support on their own smartphones at cinemas and theaters.
The solution is also easy to integrate into existing audio systems. Sennheiser founded a newsubsidiary, Sennheiser Streaming Technologies GmbH (SST) to develop this and other streaming products.
With CinemaConnect technology, film lovers with a visual or hearing impairment will no longer have to forgo a trip to the movie theater. Using a smartphone app, moviegoers can use to connect to a wifi network at the theater to access additional soundtracks for audio descriptions or assistive listening.
The audio files are chosen by the users and streamed over a multi-channel app on their own smartphones.
It has taken more than three years to develop CinemaConnect. CinemaConnect consists of a streaming server and a WiFi router that provides a closed, dedicated network within the movie theater itself to which users can connect with their smartphones. The streaming server transmits the soundtracks with a very low latency. The system allows users to use their own smartphones and headphones, eliminating the need for movie theaters to lend additional costly receivers.
In addition to films, it is also possible to stream all live content on smartphones with CinemaConnect. In the future, a live feed of sporting events on a movie screen, for example, could be an experience that includes everyone.
CinemaConnect also helps users search for movie theaters and other venues that offer the streaming technology. The app also comes equipped with a location-finder function. At the same time, Sennheiser is supporting the establishment of an online community (www.culture-inclusive.com) with a focus on culture and inclusion. The initial version of the community already exists in the form of a blog, and it will be expanded continually.
In Europe, nearly 32% of people with a hearing impairment regularly forgo taking part in cultural events, and in Germany, that figure is about one in every five. These are the findings of a representative study commissioned by Sennheiser, which Ipsos recently conducted in Germany, France, Britain, Spain, and Sweden.
"Our mission is to make cultural offerings accessible to everyone, regardless of whether and what kind of disabilities you may have. We have introduced just such a solution for movie theaters in the form of CinemaConnect," says Sennheiser Streaming Technologies Managing Director Jörn Erkau. "In the coming years, we will continue to drive the development of innovative and inclusive technologies."
CinemaConnect was unveiled to the public at the Abaton movie theater in Hamburg in May 2014. The Abaton is the first movie theater to install the system - initially for testing purposes, because the product is still in the final stages of development.
CinemaConnect will be available in fall 2014 and will include the free smartphone app for Apple iOS and Android. Subtitles for the deaf are planned at a later stage. Streaming audio in different languages will also be possible in the future.