Ring, ring: Prospector gets call from Silicon Valley

Valerie Jensen has only watched Cars 3 blindfolded.

But the owner and founder of the Prospector Theater feels like she’s seen Pixar’s newest film in all of its animated glory.

That’s because the theater’s been using an app called Actiview, which enables accessible services, such as audio description, to moviegoers.

“Cars is the first movie they’ve ever done,” Jensen explained.

“It’s a big step towards granting access anywhere to anybody.”

The developers behind Actiview, who are working on services for amplified audio, closed captioning, multi-language captioning, and sign language interpretation, called the Prospector from Silicon Valley Monday morning.

“It turns out that we were the only theater in the country to download it last weekend before Cars came out — we were the only people logged on during the premiere,” Jensen said. “There are 35,000 movie theaters in the country, and we were the only ones using their technology.”

And now, thanks to being early to the party, the Prospector will get to develop the app alongside the brainiacs on the West Coast.

The app can be downloaded by moviegoers on their smartphones or tablets, which can then be brought to the theater. Inside the Prospector, the smartphone connects to the building’s WiFi and the user chooses from the available services offered — all of which will be synched to the movie and streamed right to the device, with no other setup required.

“Everyday moviegoers just need to come in with their smartphones and headphones,” said Mike Santini, director of development.

Jensen and Santini are excited about the call from Actiview because it will allow the Prospector to continue to be a pioneer, and give others around the country more access to movies they otherwise wouldn’t see.

“Accessibility is at the forefront here but it’s not necessarily at the forefront elsewhere,” Santini said. “Hopefully this app makes it easier for those who are visually or hearing impaired to come to the movies.”

As far as the Prospector goes, Santini would like to have narrative descriptions on the app for the theater’s pre-show features.

“We’re going to be doing some beta testing and so hopefully that gives us the ability to make our own so we’re not at the mercy of the studios,” he said.

“This technology could allow us to get very creative,” Jensen added.

“We embrace accessibility here and we wish everyone else did, too.”

Sensory screenings

The theater, which has equipment for the visually and auditory impaired, also offers sensory screenings Sundays at 11 a.m. to those who want to see a movie, but can’t in the normal theater conditions. At the sensory screenings, the volume is lower and the lights dimer.

“We’re all about recommending different ways for people to watch movies — to make our theater the most accessible theater possible,” said Jensen. “For example, if you get migraines in the theater, then try wearing sunglasses…

“The sensory screenings are just to get their foot in the door,” she said. “The real goal is while they’re here to give them the tips to be confident so they can go at any time.”