The Abaton − a small independent movie theater rich in tradition − was recently equipped with the latest streaming technology by Sennheiser. Two of the theater’s screening rooms have now put the CinemaConnect system into operation. Together with an app that bears the same name, the audio specialist is bringing inclusive assistive listening and audio description to movie theaters.
In a fashion similar to the family-run Sennheiser company, Germany’s oldest arthouse cinema combines tradition with innovative technology. Matthias Elwardt, manager of the Abaton, was immediately taken with the idea of enhancing his movie theater with the innovative CinemaConnect streaming solution. “Our film program is quite diverse and has a high quality standard, but our guests also have individual needs that we aim to satisfy. We want to make cultural offerings accessible to everyone, which is why we were immediately won over by Sennheiser’s inclusive approach. We are delighted to be the first movie theater to install the system, which now allows us to offer our guests audio description and assistive listening.”
Live streaming on smartphones
For movie theater operators, integrating CinemaConnect into their existing systems is remarkably easy: The streaming server and router are permanently installed inside the movie theater and simply connected to the building’s existing technology. This creates a closed, dedicated WiFi network to which moviegoers can connect their own smartphones. They are provided with live access to the additional soundtracks for audio description or assistive listening, which are available to them through their own headphones. Thanks to real-time streaming, the solution has the additional advantage that it can support live feeds and transmissions in addition to films.
“For us, CinemaConnect is the perfect solution as the installation is a one-time event, which keeps costs to a minimum,” said movie theater operator Matthias Elwardt. “We don’t have to lend, store, recharge, or clean any receivers. Nor do we have to provide employees with any special training since CinemaConnect is easy for anyone to operate.”
The streaming server and the CinemaConnect app follow the design-for-all principle: Simple handling, language that is easy to understand, and the fact that the users’ own smartphones can be used to stream make the system appealing to a broad target group. The streaming begins automatically whenever the app is launched inside a movie theater equipped with CinemaConnect.
Sennheiser has been working in the fields of audiology and assistive listening since the early 1970s and has had a significant impact on technical developments in these areas. The audio specialist recently founded the subsidiary Sennheiser Streaming Technologies GmbH (SST) to develop solutions such as CinemaConnect, which are based on streaming technologies. “For us, CinemaConnect marks the first step. In the coming years, we will continue to drive the development of this product and other innovative technologies in terms of inclusion,” SST Managing Director Jörn Erkau said.
First stop: Abaton movie theater in Hamburg
CinemaConnect was unveiled to the public at the Abaton movie theater in Hamburg on May 21, 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. According to Jörn Erkau, “We are thrilled to have found a partner like Abaton, which has supported our innovative, inclusive solution from the beginning. At the Abaton, we are able to test CinemaConnect in a real environment and make continual improvements to the technology.”
Anyone who is interested can try the app out now at the Abaton with films that offer soundtracks for audio description and assistive listening. CinemaConnect will officially be available beginning in fall 2014 and will include the free smartphone app for Apple iOS and Android.
Vorm geven aan de sound van morgen en voor zijn klanten unieke klankervaringen tot stand brengen… Dat is het doel waarrond wereldwijd alle medewerkers en partners van Sennheiser zich verenigen. De onderneming is opgericht in 1945 en uitgegroeid tot een van ’s werelds toonaangevende producenten van koptelefoons, microfoons en draadloze zendersystemen. Met zijn 21 verkoopfilialen en partnerrelaties van vele jaren is de groep actief in ruim 50 landen. Daarnaast telt hij nog eens eigen productiefaciliteiten in Duitsland, Ierland, Roemenië en de VS. Sinds 2013 staat met Daniel Sennheiser en Dr. Andreas Sennheiser de derde generatie van de familie aan het hoofd van de onderneming. In 2017 genereerde de Sennheiser-groep een omzet van in totaal € 667,7 miljoen.