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Closed-caption glasses have social value

You can’t “like” something on Facebook by blinking your eyes while wearing Sony Entertainment Access Glasses.

You can’t use them to check your email or read text messages without seeming to be rude while someone drones on.

You can’t wear them at Starbucks to show off.

So what good can they be?

The new closed-caption glasses, which are now available for use by hearing-impaired area residents at Regal Fredericksburg 14 theaters, are that seemingly rare new tech product that has genuine social value.

Sony expects them to be available at 4,000 digital theaters across the country by next year.

Generally, prior to this, only certain films shown in theaters at certain times had captioning for the hearing impaired. This wireless technology makes it possible for the deaf and hard of hearing to see any film and to adjust streaming captioning to personal preference with a green text in adjustable height, angle and placement. Users have their choice of six languages.

Clip-on filters make them 3D movie compatible.

Access Glasses also allow the blind and vision impaired to hear descriptions of what’s going on in films in addition to the dialogue.

Perhaps best of all, users don’t have to buy them. The theater provides them.

And the captioning glasses aren’t clunky. They’re stylish.

Instead of being like the fellow at the movies in the hearing aid commercial who kept asking his wife “What’d he say?” users appear to be kind of hip.

Of course, before long, just about everyone may be wearing Google Glass portable heads-up display glasses everywhere they go, including the movies. And CNET reports that Apple has applied for a patent that indicates it may be preparing glasses similar to Google’s.

Google Glass allows users to interact with people miles away through social media and streaming video, among other things, as they walk down the street, or sit in a restaurant or board room. This would be an example of a tech advance that has anti-social value, not redeeming social value.

Because of this, Sony’s closed captioning glasses may become more hip as competition for deaf and hearing-impaired customers increase.

It wouldn’t be too surprising if the capability to Tweet about the film is eventually incorporated into the technology. And Facebook. And YouTube. And Web browsing.

After all, the deaf and hearing impaired should have the opportunity to develop full-blown ADHD and Internet addiction, too.

Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163