Crossing the Language Barrier: Theatre’s Virtual Breakthrough

Posted on: November 5, 2015 by

Blurring the lines between reality and science fiction, augmented reality is slowly becoming a part of our everyday lives. Little by little we are viewing augmented reality technology as a crucial part of enhancing the world around us – adding graphics, sounds and even haptic feedback. Everyone from shoppers to office workers,tourists to CEOs are starting to benefit from the advancements in this field.

One of the best examples can be found at the 2015 Festival D’Avignon where the Theatre in Paris has been working with Atos to use augmented reality to improve the accessibility of its performances. Using connected glass technology, developed by French start-up Optinvent, theatre-goers were able to view real-time surtitles in their chosen language – allowing them to follow the play despite the language barrier. Providing surtitles in English, French and Mandarin for ‘King Lear’ and English, Italian, Polish, German and French for ‘Return to Berratham’, the solution has been rolled out as part of The Bridge Living Lab, the European accelerator for promoting the crossover of culture and technology. .

By combining new technology with its traditional cultural experiences – such as plays and opera – the city has immeasurably improved the spectator experience for hundreds of the city’s tourists.

Currently, Atos is working with festival organisers to analyse the results of this pilot – with big plans for a wider deployment in the future. The next iteration of scheme will feature two additional lines of development, including adjustments to the glasses to improve the experience of the hearing impaired – with a particular focus on ensuring maximum enjoyment during open air performances. Secondly, the project will feature more ambitious uses of augmented reality. Producers will have the possibility to view new content, including 3D animations or weather effects to add a further level of realism to on-stage scenarios.

Although the Theatre in Paris is a trailblazer in using augmented reality to enrich the performances, the technology is becoming more prevalent. We’re expecting this kind of project to be deployed for other cultural events – including concerts or sports matches – beginning to look at how they too can capitalise on the trend.

In my next post I’ll be further exploring the concept of atugmented reality – looking at how the technology could revolutionise a number of industries, from retail to education…


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