One of the great themes in Pixar's new film, Finding Dory, focuses on the issues of living with a disability. So it's fitting that the film will be using new technology to make itself more accessible to those who would otherwise have difficulty enjoying it. Disney has announced that their audio syncing technology, previously only available for home use, will now be accessible in movie theaters for the first time with Finding Dory.
You've almost certainly seen notices in movie theaters from time to time informing the audience that devices are available to help the visually or hearing impaired experience a movie. However, not all theaters are able to provide this equipment, which means not all theatergoers are able to have the best possible experience. For the last four months, Disney has provided a smart syncing audio program as part of their Disney Movies Anywhere App, which provides an audio narration for low vision and blind moviegoers that works for films downloaded as part of the app. Now, Disney has announced that the same app can be used inside the theater to get the experience for Finding Dory.
All the user has to do is download the app to their iPhone running iOS7 (it does appear to be limited to iPhone only at this time) and the app will use the phone's microphone to listen to the film's audio track and provide properly in sync descriptive narration, along with the film's own audio. This is potentially a major breakthrough as it now means that anybody can get the audio assistance they require in a movie theater using their own mobile device and a pair of headphones.
While vision is not the disability issue that Finding Dory deals with, although there is an extremely nearsighted whale shark in the movie, it is a movie about living with, understanding, and overcoming one's disabilities. While the short term memory loss that Dory suffers from was mostly played for laughs in Finding Nemo, the battle with those issues is actually one of the film's primary conflicts in the sequel.
This new technology sounds like a major step forward in accessibility for the visually impaired. Hopefully, the technology will become a little more widespread so it won't be limited solely to Disney films. Although, if the technology is used for every property under the Mouse House's umbrella, that will still cover most of the animated, superhero, and live-action fairy tale movies that get released in any given year.
Finding Dory opens in theaters today.