Apps help deaf cinema-goers hear movies

The Personal Hearing system in use(Credit: Fraunhofer)

For people with limited hearing, understanding movies or plays can be challenging – particularly if they don't own a hearing aid. That's why engineers at Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technolgy have developed a system that streams audio from the stage or screen to the user's earphone-equipped smartphone.

The Personal Hearing technology is utilized in the free "Cinema Connect" and "MobileConnect" apps from Sennheiser Streaming Technologies, which are due to be released later this summer (Northern Hemisphere).

In both apps, users control volume by finger-dragging an onscreen dot up or down, and adjust the softness-to-deepness of the sound by dragging that dot to the left or right. In this way, they can manually ride the audio characteristics as needed, instead of trying to make do with one "compromise" setting.

Along with delivering the enhanced audio through the smartphone's hard-wired earphones, the app can also also stream it to the user's Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid – should they have one.

Fraunhofer is additionally developing a separate app based on the same technology, in which ambient audio (such as human speech) can be amplified and enhanced directly from the smartphone's microphone – not unlike the existing BioAid app.

People who are completely deaf might be more interested in Sony's Entertainment Access Glasses, which add movie subtitles that only wearers of the glasses can see.

Source: Fraunhofer

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