Press Release | 06 Jul 2023

Vodafone 5G gives visually impaired tennis fans world-first experience at Wimbledon

Live footage is streamed from local TV cameras over 5G to the headsets – developed by GiveVision – which enhance the footage to suit the person’s specific sight profile.

  • Vodafone trials new 5G-powered GiveVision headsets at Wimbledon so visually impaired fans could watch live tennis like never before.
  • Live footage is streamed from local TV cameras over 5G to the headsets – developed by GiveVision – which enhance the footage to suit the person’s specific sight profile.
  • The new technology allows fans to watch the action from anywhere in the stands.
  • The headsets are being trialled by visually impaired tennis fans throughout The Championships.
  • 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.”

Vodafone is trialling new 5G-powered GiveVision headsets on Centre Court and No. 1 Court at The Championships that let visually impaired fans watch live tennis like never before, the first time this 5G technology has ever been used in tennis.

Live footage is streamed from local TV cameras over Vodafone 5G 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.

visually impaired tennis fans in their seats at Wimbledon wearing GiveVision headsets powered by Vodafone 5G
Visually impaired tennis fans, in their seats at Wimbledon, wearing GiveVision headsets powered by Vodafone 5G.

By using 5G, fans can be fully immersed in the action, as they can watch the match live from anywhere in the stands. Previously, sports fans using the headsets could watch the live broadcast feed. But they would need to stay within 10-20m of a transmitter box in a pre-determined ‘accessibility’ area, with each box only able to support a limited number of headsets.

Vodafone 5G gives deaf and hard-of-hearing fans a first-of-its-kind live music experience

The wearable tech lets fans feel the music through vibrations, delivered by 24 touch-points around the suit, to provide a multi-sensory experience.

Vodafone 5G covers an entire court or stadium, in unlimited numbers, so visually impaired fans can enjoy the action from anywhere in the crowd alongside their friends and family. This showcases how the power of 5G technology can help make sport more accessible to more people.

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.

The headsets are being trialled for the very first time at Wimbledon by visually impaired tennis fans and players Rosie Pybus (31), Ivan Rodriguez Deb (17) and Sinead Grealy (51).

photo of Ivan Rodriguez Deb wearing a GiveVision headset, powered by Vodafone 5G, at Wimbledon
Ivan Rodriguez Deb wearing a GiveVision headset, powered by Vodafone 5G, at Wimbledon.

Rosie Pybus said: “Providing opportunities like this really helps to open tennis up and make the whole experience more inclusive. The technology is brilliant – the clarity, the option to change modes, the ability to see whatever I want – it gives me such a sense of freedom.”

After trialling them for the first time, Sinead Grealy 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.”

Ivan Rodriguez Deb said: “As a visually impaired tennis player and a huge tennis fan, I can’t put into words how I feel at the moment. Being able to track the ball, see the spin and focus on all the finer details is a real game-changer – it’s amazing.”

Using Vodafone’s superfast 5G network to power the headsets removes the lag between the broadcast feed and the headsets, as well helping to increase the speed and reliability of the GiveVision headsets in a live sport environment, making them accessible to more people and in more locations.

5G: Everything you need to know

Lots of questions about 5G? Our regularly updated handy guide has all the answers.

As each individual’s sight loss varies, the headsets can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of each person, allowing the wearer to tailor the experience to their personal needs and independently follow the on-court action. This includes features like amending the zoom, brightness and contrast of the footage.

After a successful trial, Vodafone is exploring the possibility of making the 5G headsets more widely available at future Championships, as well as at other live sporting events across Vodafone partners.

Vodafone’s UK Chief Commercial Officer, Max Taylor, said: “At Vodafone we are committed to using our technology to bring fans closer to the action. Wimbledon is one of the most iconic moments in the British summer calendar, and we are proud to be able to showcase how the power of our 5G network can help make the sport more accessible to people.”

a GiveVision headset powered by Vodafone 5G on a seat at Wimbledon
A GiveVision headset, powered by Vodafone 5G, on a seat at Wimbledon.

GiveVision CEO, Elodie Draperi, said: “At GiveVision, our mission is to redefine accessibility standards for visually impaired spectators at all UK sports and entertainment venues. By working with Vodafone and using their 5G network, we’re improving stadium accessibility without any infrastructure changes, giving visually impaired tennis fans an immersive experience at the prestigious Wimbledon Championships.”

Wimbledon’s Marketing & Commercial Director, Usama Al-Qassab, said: “We want Wimbledon to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, and we are delighted to support this fantastic initiative by our Official Partner Vodafone and GiveVision. These headsets have the ability to make a groundbreaking difference to the Wimbledon experience for guests with vision impairment. I am thrilled that they can watch all the match action in real time, sitting with their friends and family, and enjoying the tennis.”

The activity is part of Vodafone’s broader commitment to improve accessibility across both sport and music, following their development of haptic suits for deaf music fans at last year’s Mighty Hoopla and the addition of all-new visually impaired and wheelchair categories to Play Your Way To Wimbledon, powered by Vodafone, the UK’s largest mass participation tennis competition.

Merger of Vodafone UK and Three UK to create one of Europe's leading 5G networks

Vodafone Group and CH Hutchison Group Telecom Holdings Ltd., owner of Three UK, have agreed to combine their UK businesses.

Vodafone remains committed to using 5G technology to enhance live experiences. The collaboration with GiveVision demonstrates the potential of what is possible in the digital future.

However, a merger with Three UK unlocks a digital future faster, with a pledge to invest £11 billion and reach over 99% of the UK population with 5G Standalone by 2034. By having a best-in-class 5G network sooner, the merger will deliver up to £5 billion a year in economic benefit by 2030.

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– Ends –

Notes to Editors

5G: Subject to coverage. Coverage may be affected by a number of factors.

About GiveVision

GiveVision is a not-for-dividend company founded in 2014 with the aim of developing assistive technologies that can transform the lives of people with severe sight impairments. Building upon years of expertise, our focus has shifted towards the sports and entertainment sector, where we strive to set a new accessibility standard for spectators worldwide. Our goal is to break down barriers and enhance the independence of individuals with visual impairments.

Our Innovative Headset: At the core of GiveVision’s solutions is our advanced headset, designed to empower visually impaired individuals to follow live events and performances in real-time by enhancing their remaining vision and enabling them to access the action like never before. This groundbreaking technology has been meticulously developed, providing users with an immersive experience that allows them to fully engage with the excitement and atmosphere of their favourite sporting events or concerts.

Trials and Partnerships: In the UK, we have conducted successful trials with St. Vincent’s School at Everton FC, where visually impaired students aged 7 to 18 used GiveVision headsets to watch Premier League matches from the stands. This unique trial gave the students, some attending their first football match, the opportunity to experience the thrill of the nation’s favourite sport alongside their friends and teachers.

In partnership with Crystal Palace FC, we recently launched a pilot program that invited Palace fans with varying sight conditions to attend matches at Selhurst Park using GiveVision headsets. This collaboration marks a significant milestone for accessibility within football stadia, with CPFC set to become the world’s first football club to fully implement GiveVision headsets ahead of the next Premier League season.

Furthermore, GiveVision has been working closely with Paris Basket to improve accessibility options for visually impaired spectators, particularly in basketball events at venues such as Accor Arena and Roland Garros. The success of this project aligns with our broader objective of equipping stadiums for the 2024 Paris Olympics with GiveVision headsets.

To learn more about GiveVision and our mission to enhance accessibility for people with sight loss, please visit our website: www.givevision.co.uk

Demand for Vodafone data doubles at Wimbledon Championships and BST Hyde Park

Vodafone’s reliable network delivered consistently fast speeds at both summer events despite a doubling of mobile data use compared to 2019, while 5G usage at Wimbledon also surged.

About Wimbledon

The Championships, Wimbledon, is the oldest of the four tennis Grand Slams and the only one played on grass. Managed by The All England Lawn Tennis Club and staged on the Club Grounds, Wimbledon has evolved from its origins as a private members’ croquet club in 1868, to one of the world’s biggest annual sporting events and one of the most well-respected brands in sport.

Visit www.wimbledon.com and follow us @wimbledon on all major social media platforms.

About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit: www.vodafone.co.uk.

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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Email: ukmediarelations@vodafone.com

Twitter: @VodafoneUKNews

Website: https://vodafone.co.uk/newscentre/

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