For the Fans

For the Fans

Technology advancements are shaping the stadium experience for sports fans.
Alyson Powell
April 16, 2018
[Braves AR info/photos + Rahul quotes]

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Researchers are also making sports more engaging for a community that venues have historically overlooked: the deaf and hard of hearing.

Captions for Life is a real-time, personal captioning system developed by Leanne West, a principal research scientist at Georgia Tech who has a background in optical physics, and Ethan Adler, a former computer scientist at Georgia Tech. It works by collecting captions on a server in one of three ways—through voice, typing them in real-time, or pre-recorded text. The captions are then sent out via wi-fi or cellular service and displayed on a smartphone screen or on electronic eyewear like Google Glass.

Initially designed for movie theaters, Captions for Life is now meant for use in classrooms, churches, and sports venues. “The idea is that wherever you are at a sports venue, you can get the color commentary to whatever degree they're doing it at the stadium, and it goes with you. You are not tied to a seat or screen,” said West. Using multiple channels, venues can also provide captions in different languages.

West and Adler developed the system in 2000, and the following year received funding from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) through Georgia Tech’s Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC). Back then there weren’t many captioning options for the deaf and hard of hearing, but according to West things have changed over the past 15 years. “Now, people are much more aware. Venues are starting to be more proactive, so we think that’s a good sign.”

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