West End looks to wireless translations

Device to help tourists and the deaf

Theatres getting a little tech

Visitors to London's West End theatres could soon take advantage of a device that offers translations of exactly what is being said and sung.

A trial at the Shaftesbury Theatre with breakout hit Hairspray has been a success.

The musical is obviously performed in English, but language is seen as a barrier to many tourists who want to know just what's going on (and why that woman looks like a man in drag).

This was solved with Airscript, a wireless handheld screen that not only offers translations but is also helpful for the deaf.

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Eight languages

Initially, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Japanese and Chinese will be offered, but that could be extended.

James Williams, of Shaftesbury Theatre, said: "A lot of work has gone into getting this simple, yet effective concept working effectively in an incredibly short timeframe and we're delighted with the response we're seeing from our audiences."

Of course, any ad libs may cause the odd problem, but it's certainly an elegant solution to an age-old problem.