HOLOPLOT: Accessibility within live sound

TPi delves into the unique sound control capabilities of HOLOPLOT and finds out how this can revolutionise accessibility across the live events space.

Photo: HOLOPLOT addresses accessibility in live sound.

With 2010s Equality Act enforcing 116 pieces of legislation surrounding diversity and inclusion, the conversation around accessibility is growing and for live events that is no different. HOLOPLOT is revolutionising access with its one-of-a-kind technology that enables new possibilities for inclusivity for fans and crew alike.

With HOLOPLOT, audio has become malleable, allowing sound to be precisely directed into different sections of a space making it possible for fans to access different sound levels tailored to their needs.

“With traditional speakers, we can compare sound dispersion to light distribution from a lightbulb – you switch it on and the energy goes everywhere,” explained Natalia Szczepanczyk, Segment Manager for Immersive and Experiential Applications at HOLOPLOT. “With HOLOPLOT, it is more like a spotlight – you decide where to direct it.”

This begs the question, can the manipulation of sound promote accessibility in the industry? For HOLOPLOT, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. The NEU Project explored the steps the wider industry can take to be more inclusive to fans and delved into different elements. A huge part of this was emphasis on space and awareness of it.

“We often view space as neutral but even with events, space is never neutral. Space tells a person whether they are safe or not, and how people perceive an event space will inform and impact their entire experience,” the NEU Project explained.

“HOLOPLOT understands space and its cruciality in creating enjoyable atmospheres at gigs. With a HOLOPLOT system space can be transformed entirely, with separate sections of a crowd able to experience different sonic environments,” added Szczepanczyk.

With an estimated 15-20% of the world’s population being neurodivergent, it is understood that neurodivergent people have always attended events, but their needs have never been at the forefront of the operation.

“Sensory overload is caused by an influx of multiple things happening at the same time, and if audio is one of those things that can trigger you, we can help,” she enthused. “The control we have gives you the opportunity to adapt the mix in different sections of a room. You could filter higher frequencies or reduce levels to make the balcony quieter for example.”

While this is ground-breaking technology for those with extra access needs, the same principle can improve the working environment for staff, as the excessive sound levels can be navigated away from bar areas, without compromising audience experience.

The HOLOPLOT system can also help further cultural inclusion by catering to translation in an unseen before way. With HOLOPLOT, live simultaneous translation can be placed in different sections of the venue to allow an inclusive experience for multiple cultures – a feat that hasn’t been possible without headphones until now. “You simply create different language zones within the audience. The translation then happens simultaneously, without interrupting the show,” Szczepanczyk explained. “It allows people of different cultures and languages to experience the same thing, at the same time.”

“When you’re standing in your preferred language zone, and you can hear every word, it makes a huge difference. By controlling the sound and steering it to where it is needed we achieve higher intelligibility so you can listen without having to strain, which means you can pay attention for longer and the event is then more enjoyable,” Szczepanczyk continued.

HOLOPLOT can grant this accessibility through one system, and while this wasn’t the company’s primary intention during its inception, the technology has already been deployed in the ways mentioned above. “HOLOPLOT was founded in 2011 and the conversation around diversity and accessibility has been amplified since then. People are more alert to the discussion and the topic remains more visible, and this rings true for the events space as well,” Szczepanczyk added.

For lasting changes to become a reality, the industry must accept new technology such as HOLOPLOT’s Matrix Array. “The ultimate goal would be for people to no longer need to request assistance,” Szczepanczyk said.

“We’re continuously expanding into more and more market segments and are looking to further educate the industry on these additional benefits of our unique technology – once we do that, it will be easier for this level of accessibility to become a standard.”

Words: Alicia Pollitt