26/05/2014 Wedemark/Hamburg, Germany
Sennheiser is currently developing CinemaConnect, which is a live-streaming solution that provides users with audio description and hearing support on their own smartphones at cinemas and theaters. The solution is also easy to integrate into existing audio systems. The audio specialist recently founded the subsidiary Sennheiser Streaming Technologies GmbH (SST) to develop this and other streaming products.
With Sennheiser’s CinemaConnect technology, film lovers with a visual or hearing impairment will no longer have to forgo a trip to the movie theater. The core of the solution developed by Sennheiser is a smartphone app that moviegoers can use to connect to a WiFi network at the theater to access additional soundtracks for audio descriptions or assistive listening.
The audio files chosen by the users are streamed over a multi-channel app on their own smartphones so they can enjoy the film using headphones. It has taken more than three years to develop CinemaConnect, and Sennheiser placed particular emphasis on making the solution simple and convenient to use. Sennheiser worked directly with user groups during the development of the app to ensure this.
Live, low-latency streaming
CinemaConnect offers a number of benefits to movie theater operators and lenders of the service. For one, the product consists of a streaming server and a WiFi router that provides a closed, dedicated network within the movie theater itself to which users can connect with their smartphones. The streaming server transmits the soundtracks with a very low latency. The system allows users to use their own smartphones and headphones, eliminating the need for movie theaters to lend additional costly receivers. In addition to films, it is also possible to stream all live content on smartphones with CinemaConnect. In the future, a live feed of sporting events on a movie screen, for example, will be an experience that includes everyone.
CinemaConnect is not just a technical solution; it is also an all-around inclusive solution. The app helps users search for movie theaters and other venues that offer the streaming technology. The app also comes equipped with a location-finder function. At the same time, Sennheiser is supporting the establishment of an online community (www.culture-inclusive.com) with a focus on culture and inclusion. The initial version of the community already exists in the form of a blog, and it will be expanded continually.
Long-term investments in streaming and inclusion
For Sennheiser, the development of innovative solutions based on streaming technologies is a key long-term focus. This is why the audio specialist recently founded the subsidiary Sennheiser Streaming Technologies GmbH (SST). “Our mission is to make cultural offerings accessible to everyone, regardless of whether and what kind of disabilities you may have. We have introduced just such a solution for movie theaters in the form of CinemaConnect,” said Sennheiser Streaming Technologies Managing Director Jörn Erkau. “In the coming years, we will continue to drive the development of innovative and inclusive technologies,” he added.
Sennheiser has been working in the fields of audiology and hearing support since the early 1970s. The audio specialist has had a significant impact on technical developments in these areas. “Audiology and assistive listening have been a part of Sennheiser’s core business for decades,” said CEO Daniel Sennheiser. “That is why I am delighted that we are launching an inclusive, trendsetting, and user-friendly product with CinemaConnect.”
A new cinema experience with CinemaConnect
In Europe, nearly 32 percent of people with a hearing impairment regularly forgo taking part in cultural events, and in Germany, that figure is about one in every five. These are the findings of a representative study commissioned by Sennheiser, which Ipsos recently conducted in Germany, France, Britain, Spain, and Sweden.
CinemaConnect was unveiled to the public at the Abaton movie theater in Hamburg in May 2014. The Abaton is the first movie theater to install the system − initially for testing purposes, because the product is still in the final stages of development. CinemaConnect will be available in fall 2014 and will include the free smartphone app for Apple iOS and Android. Subtitles for the deaf are planned at a later stage. Streaming audio in different languages will also be possible in the future.
Shaping the future of audio and creating unique sound experiences for customers – this aim unites Sennheiser employees and partners worldwide. Founded in 1945, Sennheiser is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of headphones, microphones and wireless transmission systems. With 21 sales subsidiaries and long-established trading partners, the company is active in more than 50 countries and operates its own production facilities in Germany, Ireland, Romania and the USA. Since 2013, Sennheiser has been managed by Daniel Sennheiser and Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, the third generation of the family to run the company. In 2017, the Sennheiser Group generated turnover totaling €667.7 million.