Almost 300 million people worldwide are restricted from enjoying live sport because of their blindness or low vision.
Action Audio turns spatial data into information-rich 3D sound experiences, allowing low vision audiences to follow the action in real time.
Action Audio at the 2022 Australian Open
[Audio Description] Mikey Todorovik is sitting on his leather chair.
MIKEY: When you have a vision impairment, you're frustrated a lot in your life without even realizing that you're frustrated because you've got to focus on things extra, but when you have something to help it, that's when you feel the frustration go down and you're like... oh, wow, I was actually frustrated watching TV.
[Screen Text] Today, almost 600,000 Australians are living with blindness or low vision.
[Screen Text] They face challenges participating in many of the things we take for granted.
[Screen Text] Like watching live sports.
[Audio Description] Maurice Gleeson is sitting in front of a large window of greenery
MAURICE: Tennis, sadly, hasn't been anywhere near as accessible as I would like.
[Audio Description] Sandra Knight is sitting on a yellow couch
SANDRA: I’m not a great watcher of sport because I can't see where the balls are.
[Audio Description] Kala Petronijevic is wearing her junior tennis shirt and plays with a tennis ball. She is sitting with her mother Jelena
KALA: So my dad has to commentate for me and he finds it tiring sometimes because I can't see who's serving or the ball or the points.
[Audio Description] Adam Fayad is sitting at home on his grey couch
ADAM: It's a struggle, I must say. Uh, but you know, I've got to tolerate it and live with it at the moment until something else comes out.
[Screen Text] In 2021, Tennis Australia, Monash University and AKQA came together...
[Screen Text] To develop a new way to improve access to the Australian Open for people with visual impairments.
[Audio Description] Melanie Huang, Lead Designer, AKQA is sitting outside.
MELANIE: We found a way using ball tracking technology to create a new experience of sport that's accessible for everyone.
[Audio Description] Chatai Goncu, Research Fellow, Monash University is standing outside.
CHATAI: We use Hawkeye data for our system. And what we get from Hawkeye is the 3D position of the ball and the players during the game play.
[Audio Description] Examples of Hawkeye technology determining the ball being 'In'
[Audio Description] Tim Devine, Executive Creative Director AKQA stands in front of a maroon wall
TIM: And we take that data and we turn it into 3D audio. What we call Action Audio.
[Audio Description] Action Audio logo animates in
TIM: Action Audio contains a wealth of information for blind and low vision sports fans to understand what's going on on the court from ball position, how close it is to the line, the type of shot they're playing.
[Screen Text] Forehand
[Screen Text] Backhand
[Screen Text] Forehand
TIM: We're using sound in a way that could impact the experience of live broadcast sport for millions of sports fans around the world.
[Audio Description] Sandra, Maurice, Adam and Kala all put on their headphones to listen to Action Audio for the first time.
KALA: What? Oh
[Audio Description] Maurice smiles
[Audio Description] Adam is smiling upwards.
ADAM: Forehand, backhand, backhand, backhand, backhand, forehand.
MAURICE: What a rally.
KALA: I don't know why, but I can suddenly see the ball. I can actually hear everything and I can actually see the ball. For some reason, I can see the ball now better than I could see the ball before.
[Audio Description] Mikey stops to look to the camera.
MIKEY: Oh, I wouldn't watch it any other way. You can just, you can just enjoy the games so much better.
KALA: I don't have to ask my dad, like can you commentate? I can't see where the ball's going.
MIKEY: Oh like the sooner we can get this the better. Do you reckon we can get it for this Australian Open? Would it work? For the one, for this year?
[Audio Description] Craig Tiley, CEO Tennis Australia is in the stands at Rod Laver.
CRAIG: At Tennis Australia, we're very proud to be launching an opportunity for everyone to enjoy the game. We are launching Action Audio at the Australian open finals.
[Screen Text] Experience it at action-audio.com
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Everyone has the right to have as much access as possible. I love tennis, but being totally blind, all I can usually hear is the ball going up and down and then I have to wait for them to announce the result. I'm really looking forward to this next step forward in accessibility.Maurice Gleeson, CEO, Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria
This is the final piece that I'm missing. It gives you those cues that you never really had before.Michael Marshall, Blind sports fan
For the first time, thousands of blind and visually impaired fans are be able to follow the on-court action in real time, enabled by this groundbreaking new use of technology.Craig Tiley, CEO, Tennis Australia
Action Audio is essentially a new language being created to transcend sport. It enables us to augment the live radio broadcast and changes the way blind and low vision sports fans can participate in live sport entertainment.Machar Reid, Head of Innovation at Tennis Australia
Get in touch
If you'd like to explore how Action Audio could be implemented into your sports broadcast, or if you'd like to participate in testing and development, we'd love to here from you.
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