Olympus Corp. and a nonprofit organization have jointly developed special eyeglasses that project subtitles on the lenses so the hearing impaired can enjoy Japanese movies.
A type of head-mounted display (HMD), the glasses will be unveiled at the Tokyo International Film Festival that runs through Oct. 30.
The device was developed by the Tokyo-based precision equipment maker and the non-profit Media Access Support Center (MASC), based in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.
MASC has been working to provide better access to information for people with hearing difficulties by promoting captions for films and DVDs, and is providing captions from its Web site through the iPhone to the device.
According to MASC, subtitles for the hearing impaired need to include not only dialogue but also information on who is going to speak before actors deliver their lines. It also needs to explain to viewers about footsteps, honking horns and other sound effects.
As it costs at least 1 million yen per film to print these subtitles, few films provide them. Only 51 of 408 new releases in 2010 had the special subtitles.
Theaters showing these films are also limited, especially in rural areas. Since the subtitles may annoy non-impaired viewers, the films are generally shown only for about two days even in metropolitan areas.
Mitsuhiko Ogawa, 49, vice director of Tokyoto Chuto Shiccho Nanchosha Kyokai, an association for people with hearing disabilities, said films give people with hearing problems an important opportunity to relate to other people and society. "It would be great if we were able to go see a movie with anybody, anytime, anywhere," Ogawa said.
Even if the HMD comes into wide use, however, scripts for subtitles still have to be made for each film. MASC director Koji Kawano, 48, said making HMD subtitles costs less than one-fifth of usual subtitles as the HMD subtitles do not have to be printed on film. "The problem is who bears the cost," he said.
Kawano stressed films with HMD subtitles will also be good for seniors with hearing difficulties. He said demand could be increased by expanding the HMD's functions to allow the use of foreign-language subtitles.
The pic is just an example. The model which is developed by Olympus could be different.
And COOL! I wouldn't wish to need one, one day. But I might want one in the future :P Could make an awesome gift for my parents, if the subtitles in my language is available.