For the second year running, Sony exhibited at the 34th CSUN Assistive Technology Conference on accessibility held in Anaheim, California from March 11 through March 15, 2019. Sony introduced the accessibility functions of its products, including the PlayStation®4 and the PS4® software title Marvel's Spider-Man. In cooperation with organizations for the visually-impaired, it made it easier for people with visual disabilities to handle products for themselves by creating display stands that could provide product descriptions in braille and audio.
Sony exhibited at the SXSW 2019, the world's largest creative business festival held from March 9 through March 12 in Austin Texas, and won the award for Best Use of Technology. In its CAVE Without a LIGHT feature, Sony used the largest section of its booth for an experiential exhibition of inclusive design* that allowed visitors to enjoy music without relying on their sense of sight. The exhibit reproduced a pitch-black cave-like setting to demonstrate the possibilities of technologies that enable a variety of people to enjoy themselves to the full using Sony audio and haptic technologies to play music together, whether they have disabilities or not.
Sony Group creators, including totally visually impaired audio engineers and others, irrespective of disabilities, gender, cultural and language differences, adopted inclusive design principles to achieve a high level of perfection from a wide range of viewpoints. During the exhibition, we invited People with visual impairment living in the Austin area to attend. As a result, a large number of visitors from a variety of backgrounds came to the exhibition each day and enjoyed themselves.
Sony is involved in various efforts to contribute to culture and sports using technology. One experimental initiative has been to use Sony’s original Bluetooth?-related technology to provide support for snow sports athletes, who can find themselves in some rugged outdoor surroundings.
A technology was developed to allow simultaneous calls between several people within a radius of up to 1 kilometer, even when they are on a mountaintop or other areas where it is difficult to find Internet-connectivity or even a mobile phone signal. Users only need to attach a device equipped with this technology onto their ski helmets to carry out hands-free conversations with coaches, teammates and others who are at some distance from them. The technology has been adopted for experimental use during training by Japanese ski athletes (belonging to the Ski Association of Japan, Japan Para-Ski Federation, etc.) who are expected to be part of the Japan national team.
It is a technology that is useful not only for serious competitors. The device will also enable children or foreigners, who may have no previous snow sports experience, to receive lessons from instructors or through interpreters. It is a technology that will support the achievement of a safe environment in which everyone, from top athletes to beginners, can enjoy sports.
Accessibility team leads a variety of activities in regions such as Japan and US.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is commemorated on the third Thursday of May to raise global awareness of accessibility. Each year on this day, the US offices of Sony Interactive Entertainment and the US offices of Sony North America hold major events concerning accessibility.
In 2018, Sony Interactive Entertainment brought in gamers with hearing loss and an accessibility advocate to speak about how they use Sony products. Sony North America also displayed accessibility-friendly products and prototypes, which encouraged employee interest and facilitated active exchanges of opinions.
On February 2018 in Japan, meanwhile, people with disabilities were invited to give lectures on how to deal with lifestyles and products from the perspective of interested parties, and joined in workshops designed to deepen understanding.
Researchers at Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) explore a variety of unique themes. Among those, Dr. Ken Endo focuses on three main areas of research related to prosthetic limbs: 1) robotic legs, where motors are used to reproduce ankle and knee functions, 2) affordable, locally manufactured prosthetic limbs for developing countries, and 3) fitness prosthetics, with goals to be completed by 2020 for use in Tokyo.
Dr. Endo dreams of seeing an athlete with a prosthetic limb running just as fast, or faster, than an athlete without a disability at the sprint race. If that happens, it would completely revolutionize the future of disabled sports. Out of this fitness prosthetic research comes the possibility of creating technology that can boost athletes' potential beyond their natural capacities, whether or not they have a disability. If that comes to fruition, the line between "abled" and "disabled" would all but disappear. It is with these scenarios in mind that Dr. Endo carries out his research each day.
The Shibuya City Games—Challenge the World Record, organized by the Shibuya Art Festival (*) Executive Committee, was held on November 5 (Sun.) on Fire Street in Shibuya, Tokyo. An unprecedented street race in Japan was unfolded in which top athletes using blade prosthetics competed to see if they could mark a new record as the fastest prosthetic sprinter.
In response to requests from shareholders at the General Meeting of Shareholders, Sony released a voice reader-compatible "Notice of the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders" on the Shareholders' Meeting section of its Investor Relations website (*) for the first time in 2016 so that people with visual impairments could read the information. To facilitate access via voice-reading software, the page for the latest Notice of the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders featured links to the table of contents and various sections of the Notice at the top of the page to make it easier for users to find the information they need.
On the day of the General Meeting, Sony also expanded on its existing accessibility approach — wheelchair seating areas, which provide wheelchair-bound shareholders with easier access, along with simultaneous English translation services — by offering additional information support for shareholders with visual or hearing impairments. The information support services featured two main components: audio commentary via wireless headphones to give vision-impaired individuals details on screen — projected slide presentations — much like supplementation audio channels for television broadcasts-and written summary transcripts to help people with hearing loss understand the presentations and proceedings. The written transcripts appeared on a special monitor under the stage, providing a running, real — time summary of what the speakers on stage were saying.
Shareholders who made use of the information support services complimented the new offerings, saying that they made the General Meeting easier to follow and enjoy.
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As part of the FY2018 National Invention Awards sponsored by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation (JIII), Sony Corporation has been awarded the Asahi Shimbun Award for inventing a wireless device connection method that is operated by touch.
The award commends this invention for its contribution to the spread and development of accessible products through the achievement of universal designs that reduce the burden on users by means of a wireless device connection method that uses touch operation.
The invention combines NFC (Near Field Communication) and other short-range wireless communications methods with WiFi and other high-bandwidth wireless communications methods. Simply touching together the devices that the user wants to connect initiates NFC communications, allowing WiFi and other methods to take over the actual connections. This simple operation thus launches wireless communications between devices without requiring the user to be aware of setting up complicated wireless connections.
The invention also adopts the NFC Forum's Connection handover protocol as its international standard, and is installed in many products as an intuitive inter-device connection technology. In this way, it contributes to the spread and development of products that embody universal designs that are easy and intuitive for anyone to use.
Sony Corporation's Entertainment Access Glasses (STW-C140GI) received an Innovation Award (*2) from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) (*1).
The HLAA awards committee selected the Entertainment Access Glasses, which project holographic captions onto glasses, for giving hearing-impaired individuals more opportunities to enjoy movies on the big screen.
"Sony has demonstrated a significant achievement, resulting in people with hearing loss being able to enjoy a movie with friends and family, children and grandchildren at any time, for any showing," an HLAA representative explained during the awards ceremony at HLAA Convention 2016, a nationwide gathering of organization members. "The experience of being an equal part of the community cannot be overstated."
Entertainment Access Glasses projects easy-to-see green text onto glass lenses as a superimposed overlay and lets users adjust the text height of the captions they see, creating a natural watching experience that eliminates the need to look away from the screen and keeps the text from interfering with the onscreen visual content. Light and comfortable, the Glasses help people with hearing loss understand character dialogue at the same pace as hearing people do. They let wearers adjust the size, perceived distance, and language of the captions. They also feature receiver box that allows wearers to plug in their headphones and access multiplex audio accompaniment for people with visual impairments.
The Japan Technical Communicators Association's "Japan Manual Awards" are the country's only official awards for product manuals. Established in 1991, the Japan Technical Communicators Association has presented Japan Manual Awards on a yearly basis since 1997 in hopes of providing users with manuals that incorporate new production technologies and quality improvements to deliver easy-to-understand information on how to use products safely.
Two Sony product manuals received awards at the Japan Manual Awards 2018 hosted by the Japan Technical Communicators Association. The first was “toio tsukaikata gaido (toio instruction manual)” for Toy Platform toio™, which won an excellence award for the General – Paper Category. The second was “aibo to no kurashi no hajime kata (How to begin life with aibo)” for entertainment robot “aibo,” which won the encouragement award.
The manual for Toy Platform toio™ was recognized because the tutorial was written to be read by children themselves. Various means were taken to help children enjoy reading the manual and playing with the product. For example, colors were changed for each chapter, and illustrations were combined with a casual writing style. Ample space was given to the margins, and the design helped make things easy for children to understand.
The design of the manual for aibo consists of many illustrations. It looks like a picture book which becomes the start of the invaluable story born by aibo and the owners living together. Each page describes a single procedure, written in large font. It was designed to provide the reader with a stress-free reading experience. Care was also taken in the words that were chosen to give a sense that the aibo is actually alive. For example, the owner does not “use” aibo but rather “lives” with aibo and the owner “wakes up” aibo instead of “starts up” aibo.