In an interconnected world where diversity is celebrated, language barriers still persist, even in the realm of entertainment. For movie enthusiasts, the thrill of watching films on the big screen can be dampened by a significant limitation — the language in which movies are presented. Most movie theaters predominantly show films in a single language, usually English, leaving non-native speakers feeling somewhat excluded.
However, one enterprising entrepreneur and University of Utah mechanical engineering student, Christian Langell, is on a mission to change this narrative through his startup, ET Soundworks.
ET Soundworks is working to create Bluetooth public broadcast transmitters capable of delivering high-definition audio in multiple languages. This innovative solution has the potential to redefine the way we experience movies in theaters.
The core problem ET Soundworks addresses is glaringly evident in theaters worldwide, including the United States. Currently, most movie theaters broadcast films in English. The availability of movies in multiple languages, especially in culturally diverse cities like New York, is limited. This language barrier restricts non-native English speakers from enjoying movies in their native tongue, thereby limiting their cinematic experience.
As Langell, the founder of ET Soundworks, explained, “The significant problem we’re tackling is the fact that most movie theaters only broadcast in one language. It’s challenging to find theaters that offer multilingual options.”
The journey of this startup began with a stroke of inspiration. During a deep meditation session, the idea of breaking down language barriers through technology struck Langell. While the Bluetooth Special Interest Group initially designed their technology to broadcast Bluetooth audio to unlimited listeners at public venues, it was around the same time that Langell recognized its potential for language accessibility, allowing for audio broadcasting in multiple languages. This technological advancement, along with Langell’s inspiration, set the stage for ET Soundworks’ pioneering endeavor.
What sets ET Soundworks apart from others in the audio technology industry is their unyielding focus on customer empathy. As Langell said, “One of the core values of my company is empathy. Many startups focus solely on profits, but we’re committed to helping people.” This commitment to improving accessibility is a refreshing perspective in the startup world, which often emphasizes profitability above all else.
ET Soundworks is currently working closely with movie theater executives and conducting customer discovery to understand the real needs and challenges faced by theaters and non-native English-speaking audiences. This hands-on approach sets them apart from larger corporations and demonstrates Langell’s dedication to making a positive impact.
The journey has had its share of challenges. Creating the product, especially the prototype, posed difficulties. While Langell found Bluetooth open-source resources beneficial for the technical aspects, he encountered substantial hurdles related to hardware costs and securing funding.
Receiving a funding from the Get Seeded grant program at the University of Utah’s Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute alleviated some of these financial obstacles for Langell.
While ET Soundworks’ primary focus is currently on movie theaters, the technology’s potential extends far beyond the big screen. Language accessibility can be applied to public events, United Nations talks, concerts, and more. Langell sees movie theaters as a prime starting point to establish his company in a market that demands innovation.
The future is promising for ET Soundworks. They are preparing to present to an angel investor in California, which could be a significant step in securing the funding needed to accelerate their growth. Furthermore, partnerships with industry leaders like Nordic Semiconductor, a major Bluetooth chip manufacturer, have been instrumental in shaping the startup’s success.
For those aspiring to follow in Langell’s entrepreneurial footsteps, he has some simple advice: “Don’t be afraid to get out there. Go talk to people, listen to their problems, and fall in love with the problem before trying to create a solution for it.”
ET Soundworks’ journey serves as an inspiring example of how empathy, innovative thinking, and a relentless pursuit of solving real-world problems can lead to groundbreaking solutions. With their Bluetooth public broadcast transmitters, the future of language accessibility in movie theaters and beyond looks bright. Langell’s dedication to making the world more inclusive through technology is a testament to the transformative power of entrepreneurship.
Learn more about ET Soundsworks at etsoundworks.com.