Action Audio is making the Australian Open accessible to people living with blindness or low vision.

Listen to Action Audio at the Australian Open

You can stream Action audio from the Australian open website

Listen to AO Action Audio
Osaka vs Hsieh as the Australian Open
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Listen to Action Audio

“Hey Google, ask Action Audio to stream.”

Documentary

Action Audio turns spatial data from live sports into sound, allowing blind and low vision audiences to follow the action in real time.

Action Audio Film (with Audio Descriptions)

[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

MAURICE: Fantastic.

[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

Transcript

What does it sound like?

Listen to the samples below to hear how Action Audio brings the on court action to life (headphones recommended)

First, let’s test your headphones. You should hear audio coming from your left and right side.

The closer the ball is to the court perimeter, the more blips you will hear.

You will hear the ball as it moves around the court (ie. the hit and bounce of the ball)

A high pitched sound indicates a forehand, a low pitch sound indicates a backhand.

Listen to a sample of Action Audio

Listen to this 18 shot rally between Marin Čilić and Roger Federer in the fourth set of the Australian Open 2018 singles men's final.

Imagine you are standing behind Čilić and Federer is serving towards you from the far end of the court. The current score is Advantage Federer.

How does it work?

Action Audio works by turning spatial data from the Australian Open’s real time ball monitoring technology into 3D sound. The system emphasises ball speed and trajectory, proximity to line and shot type, and augments critical moments to allow blind and low vision audiences to follow the game without seeing the ball.

The sound of Action Audio has been informed by four design principles:

Social Consideration

Watching sports is a valuable social activity. Action Audio is designed so that everyone can watch together.

Existing Sound Languages

We've adopted similar sound cues to Blind Tennis to remain consistent and familiar with the global blind sports community.

Accentuated Tension Points

Sport is all about pushing the limits. Our solution emphasises dramatic moments to signal when a breakthrough is approaching.

Selective Auditory Attention

We filter out sounds around us in order to focus on other things. We designed Action Audio to be ‘filterable’ so as not to unnecessarily distract.

Action Audio is a collaboration between Tennis Australia, Monash University and AKQA.

Tennis Australia
Monash University
AKQA

Thank you to the International Blind Tennis Association, Blind Sports & Recreation Victoria and the many sports fans who contributed to the co-design of Action Audio.

AKQA

Frequently Asked Questions

When will Action Audio be available?

Action Audio will be available at the 2022 Australian Open. More details will be published here closer to the event.

We hope to offer Action Audio for more sports broadcasts in the future as we continue to co-design with the community.

How can I access Action Audio?

Action Audio will be available via the on the Australian Open website. This stream contains Action Audio overlaid onto the broadcast commentary, and on-court sounds.

Action Audio is not guaranteed to be synced with live TV broadcasts. TV broadcast delay times vary depending on your home setup and geographic area. To use Action Audio in tandem with a TV broadcast, we recommend manually configuring the delay on your TV.

How can I get involved?

Are you a sports fan living with a vision impairment? We want to hear from you.

Action Audio is part of a larger ongoing research project to bring more live broadcast sport to sports fans around the world.

Please email us on contact@action-audio.com

Help! Action Audio isn’t working for me?

For technical assistance with Action Audio or to learn more about the project, please email us oncontact@action-audio.com

How do I know what the sounds mean?

Action Audio includes a variety of sounds including, the position and movement of the ball, the proximity of the ball to the line and the type of shot the player has hit. You can listen to these sounds individually in the section “What does it sound like”.

Is Action Audio available for other sports?

The use of real time ball monitoring technology in other sporting codes such as cricket and football offers a huge opportunity to expand access to many more sports to people living with blindness or low vision. If you would like to discuss how Action Audio could be implemented for your sports broadcast, contact contact@action-audio.com.