Greta & Starks, a start-up based in Berlin, is opening the movie theatre door for everyone — including those with visual or hearing impairments and non-native speakers.
Both Greta and Starks are apps that allow people with sight or hearing loss to enjoy films. Greta quietly whispers descriptions and actions in time with the film. And Starks displays captions in a variety of languages.
The apps both rely on a database of films, in addition to the captions and commentary, but the app will automatically recognize the film and begin keeping time with the movie.
“This allows everyone to play the desired subtitles where they need them,” said Senet Debese, Managing Director of GRETA and STARKS, to WIRED in German. “Our apps basically work just like the music identification app Shazam — just offline.”
The startup is now working to emulate the effectiveness of the apps in a sleek AR headset. The current prototype of the headset will have an arm band that crosses the user’s face with a micro screen directly in front of their eye, similar to Google Glass.
This screen will allow for the captions to appear directly on the screen for the user but not interrupt anyone else’s movie experience.
In the U.S. alone nearly 30 million people are hearing impaired and 14 million are sight-impaired, so this headset will have a major impact on the lives of many people.
The tech is currently only available near Germany where it was created and isn’t quite yet available for purchase. However, the start-up plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Sept. 6 to help finalize their prototype and begin creating the final product.