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What Does a Forehand Winner Sound Like? Clink, Blip-Blip-Blip!


The technology converts data collected by cameras ringing the tennis court 50 times a second into three-dimensional sound, allowing it to be broadcast alongside live radio commentary.

Credit: Alana Holmberg/The New York Times

Rapid, echoing pops go off in Michael Marshall's ears when he listens to an Australian Open tennis match, followed closely by high- and low-pitched clinks. Three pops on the left signal that the ball landed close to the line; a low-pitched clink means that the player returned it with a backhand stroke.

Without context, these noises might sound like arcade sound effects or some new version of Morse code — but each one is a message meant to help people who are blind or have limited vision follow the game. A new technology, called Action Audio, is being tested on a large scale for the first time at this year's Australian Open, where every match in the Rod Laver Arena is available on a livestream with this accessibility feature.

From The New York Times
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