Some of you may have seen some stories in the news recently about the new Sony Entertainment Access Glasses which provide captioning for individuals without the need for specific captioned show times. Movie theatre captioning has been an ongoing hot topic in the hearing impaired community. One of our local theaters in Memphis provides open captioning but only offers shows 1 day per week and there are limited showtimes to boot. I see one of the goals of these glasses being to provide access to captions at any time. This way, individuals will be able to enjoy captioning whenever they choose to attend a movie and won’t have to rearrange their schedule around a theater’s captioning schedule and can enjoyed midnight premieres or other prime-time shows with their friends. Sony recently announced a partnership to roll out these devices to Regal Cinemas and I saw on Twitter that my friend Caden was going to be trying them. He has graciously agreed to write a review for the blog. Enjoy!

After reading about the launch of Sony’s access glasses a few months back, I decided today to put them to the test. I found that my local Regal Cinema carries the devices so I checked out the movie times and picked “The Lone Ranger” as my movie choice. I debated on which processor to wear, I initially wanted to use my Advanced Bionics Neptune, but opted for wearing both of my Harmony processors instead. After arriving at the theatre I realized that the movie I wanted was sold out, so I opted for “White House Down” , not my typical movie because I get ‘lost’ with a lot of special effects and explosions, but I thought this would really test out the captioning on the glasses.

I told the guest services representative that I wanted the caption glasses. She had me sign them out and then handed me a small wireless device (about the length of an iPhone and about twice as thick) with a lanyard, then she gave me the glasses. The glasses were interesting. They have two components on the side that (I’m guessing) transmits the captioning onto the lenses. The lenses were mostly clear when I had them on and they had a dot like pattern on them if you viewed them straight on. The glasses plug into the wireless receiver and there is also an audio jack on the device. There is a power button, two volume controls (-/+) and a center button labeled ‘select’.

The first thing I noticed when I went into the theatre was that the arms of the glasses were a little thicker than standard glasses; therefore they pushed my Harmony processors off my ears. After some maneuvering I was able to get them on my ears with the glasses. To be fair I usually have issues with sunglasses and things on my ears with my Harmony processors, my ears aren’t that big. Second, I noticed that my receiver was blinking off and on. I quickly went and swapped it out for a different one, it did the same thing. We discovered that the glasses cord wasn’t plugging in correctly so we swapped that out as well. No big deal. I did find out that the device is actually programmed for the specific movie and show time that you tell the ticket clerk, which is pretty cool. So after getting all that fixed I clicked the ‘select’ button and the lenses displayed my options for viewing. I could change the brightness of the text and also how near or far it appeared from the screen (Near,Mid,Far). I was told that the captions wouldn’t start until the movie did so I was still relying only on my CI’s for previews and such. 

Once the opening credits started the captions immediately began showing on the lenses. I changed my settings to have the captions at ‘mid’ and set the brightness about midway on the scale. The captions themselves were semi transparent and to me they were grayish, but my companion who tried them on said they were actually green (I’m colorblind). It took me about 5-10 minutes to get used to seeing the captions but once I did it was no more distracting than watching the television with captions on. 

It was very cool and I like how I know have the option to see just about any movie I want to regardless of the time. The glasses themselves got very heavy close to the end of the film, I am going to assume that it is because of how awkwardly I was wearing them in order to keep my CI’s on. I am definitely a fan of this technology. If you are going for the first time get there early so you can get used to how they feel, where the buttons are, etc before your film. I had about 20 minutes to play with it before the film actually started. I also will wear my Neptune next time and free my ears up. I would also like to take advantage of plugging my audio cord directly into the wireless device to hear better. Only negatives I saw were the weight of the glasses after about 2 hours or so and just getting used to how the device feels and wearing it comfortably. I cannot wait to try it out again.

Caden Zembower – I was born hard of hearing with progressive sensorineural hearing loss growing up between Roanoke Virginia, Lancaster Pennsylvania, and Western Maryland. I lost the last of my hearing at age 30 and was implanted with Advanced Bionics Hi Res 90K implant in 2007 on my left ear, and in 2008 on my right ear. I use both Advanced Bionics Harmony processors for bilateral hearing and an Advanced Bionics Neptune on my left side only. In my spare time I ride bulls, steer wrestle and rodeo.