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5G headsets deliver new experience for visually impaired tennis fans

10 Jul 2023Products
3 minute read

Taking place in South London, The Wimbledon Championships is the oldest tennis tournament in the world. The third of four Grand Slam titles in the tennis calendar, it attracts tennis fans from all over the world.

As Wimbledon’s Official Connectivity Partner, Vodafone UK has been working on ways we can use our world-leading connectivity and the power of 5G to help bring the sport to more people.

Get closer to the action

This year, we’ve teamed up with GiveVision and are trialling new 5G-powered headsets on Centre Court and Court 1 that let visually impaired fans watch live tennis like never before.

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It works by streaming live footage from local TV cameras over our 5G network to the GiveVision headsets. They then enhance the footage to suit the person’s specific sight profile, by bringing it closer to their eye to stimulate the photoreceptor cells in the retina (cells that respond to light), which means a degree of sight can be regained.

As each individual’s sight loss varies, the headsets can be adjusted to fit the needs of each person, allowing the wearer to tailor the experience. For example, they can amend the zoom, brightness and contrast of the footage.

As well as accessing the live feeds, people testing the headsets can switch between modes and use the camera phone in the headset to focus on whatever action they like.

Sinead Grealy, who experienced it for the first time, said, “These 5G headsets are amazing and will be life-changing for so many people. It’s incredible that I’ll be able to enjoy live sporting experiences like this in the future and I’m beyond overwhelmed at the moment.”

The future of sport

This is the first time this technology has ever been used in tennis and, because our 5G network covers an entire court, fans can now watch from anywhere in the stands rather than having to stay close to the transmission box in a pre-determined ‘accessibility’ area – as was the case beforehand.

There is also no lag time, so fans can watch the sport as it happens in real-time.

Given the success of trial, we are exploring the possibility of making these headsets more widely available at future Championships, as well as at other live sporting events.

Give Vision

This is part of our wider work with Wimbledon and its partners, to open the sport up to more budding tennis players. For example, this year, as part of our Play Your Way To Wimbledon mass participation tennis competition, we’ve added new visually impaired and wheelchair categories.

And to encourage more diversity in the sport our multi-channel campaign includes two 30” TV ads telling the story of Vodafone ambassadors and Wimbledon wheelchair champions, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid, through the eyes of their parents, celebrating their journeys of triumph over adversity.

The activities around The Championships ladder up to Vodafone’s wider purpose to improve inclusion for all and builds on last year’s development of haptic suits for deaf and hard-of-hearing fans at London’s Mighty Hoopla Festival.

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