Despite the 28 million Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, many public venues lack captioning. But a system from the Georgia Tech Research Institute and Peacock Communications uses wireless technology to provide captioning to an entire audience.
The system uses the COMMplements software and the 802.11b Wi-Fi wireless protocol, which already is in place in many facilities. Venues would broadcast text captions to receivers with displays. The audience would then read the captions on their own PDAs or laptops. Or, venues would provide the receivers and displays.
Captions can be pre-recorded or generated in real time using Communication Access Real-Time Translation (CART). Users would read the captions on the receiver's display or through a microdisplay that would attach to their glasses or be worn on a headband. While close to the eye, such a display would make the text appear to float several feet away and on top of the user's visual field without obscuring the action on stage.
Peacock Communications is now consulting with various public venues on hardware and installation issues. Next, the researchers hope to refine the system with security measures to prevent hacking. They also want to develop a more rugged and less expensive micro display. And, they hope to create a customized version of the system for venues to distribute to patrons who don't have a PDA.
While this opens up new opportunities for the deaf and hard of hearing, the researchers anticipate other applications too. The internationally compatible software can transmit multiple text streams, suiting it for language translation. Or, venues could use it to broadcast supplementary information like statistics at sports events, lyrics at concerts, or general safety instructions.
Georgia Tech Research Institute