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Life-changing smart glasses developed by Leeds Beckett researcher


A Leeds Beckett colleague has praised the work of a university researcher who is helping to make theatre more accessible for those who are deaf or hard of hearing by developing ‘smart glasses’.

Professor Andrew Lambourne, from the School of Computing, Creative Technologies & Engineering, hit the headlines after working with London’s National Theatre (NT) to create augmented reality glasses to broadcast subtitles direct to the eye of the wearer.

Leeds Beckett colleague Amy Simcock, from the Admissions Department, commended Professor Lambourne’s life-changing work for the impact it will have on her mum, Judith, who is profoundly deaf.

Amy said: “My mum has been profoundly deaf for 57 years and she loves the theatre however accessibility is very difficult so I was fascinated to hear about Professor Lambourne’s work. It’s brilliant that the university where I work is helping to improve accessibility for my mum and other people with hearing loss.”

Augmented reality (AR) sees computer-generated images superimposed over a user’s view of the real world, usually via a smartphone or smart glasses.

The technology uses voice-following software to track precisely where the show is in the script, so the right subtitles are delivered at the right time.

Professor Lambourne said: “This is an exciting project with opportunity for further development which will have an even bigger impact. Future options include providing translation captions so patrons can watch the dialogue in their own language, and certainly cinema is on the list of future possibilities.”

An expert in the design and development of computer-assistive tools, Professor Lambourne pioneered many of the original tools and techniques to provide live TV subtitles for deaf and hearing-impaired people, as well as cost-effective subtitles for recorded programmes.


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