The CSP/RPL protocol that is moving forward in SMPTE was intended to spur development in the marketplace of competitive closed caption solutions. Two manufacturers to date, USL and Intelligent Access, base products on it. Intelligent Access is probably the company lesser known. Led by Leanne West of Georgia Tech Research Institute, the company’s most notable achievement is the pioneering of downloadable apps for smart phones that allow the phone to drive closed caption glasses. Without the proper funding, however, the company is unlikely to build a strong presence in the cinema space. USL, who partnered with Dolby in the development of CSP/RPL, offers a cup-holder-mounted electronic display for closed captions. The latest generation of the unit is small and lightweight, with ample filtering to prevent neighbors from seeing the caption text. USL is also working on closed caption glasses of its own design, but says it is also studying the emerging glasses for gaming that can be adapted for cinema use.
While CSP/RPL provides an open interface between digital cinema server and closed caption system, the openness of the closed caption distribution format is perhaps what most differentiates digital cinema from film for accessibility. Taking advantage of this, Doremi developed a closed caption system of its own that only works with the Doremi server. The advantage for Doremi has been that closed caption technology is now a bargaining tool in negotiating sales, rather than simply an add-on cost to be borne by the exhibitor. Recognizing that the business model for accessibility technology in cinema is not rich, Doremi is pursuing a model for providing accessibility that works. It is hard to argue with sales. Cinemas in Canada and Australia have begun to install Doremi servers with CaptiviewTM, the company’s closed caption technology. Cinemark is also expected to pursue the installation of the technology in its US cinemas.
Interestingly, other server companies have yet to catch on to the success of Doremi’s model. Even if selling a closed caption device that is based on the CSP/RPL standard, the concept of using closed caption technology as a bargaining chip for sales is smart. With the Department of Justice in the US actively pursuing enactment of a rule that will encourage the adoption of closed caption devices in cinemas, the demand for this technology will only increase.