6 Min

Revolutionizing Helmet Technology

Check out how football team from Gallaudet University is using most recent technology revolution in communication technology to their advantage. Click here to read more!

Colton Jannusch
Colton Jannusch
Revolutionizing Helmet Technology

How many of you are aware that perhaps the most iconic sports communication innovation - the huddle - was started by a deaf football team at Gallaudet University? In an 1894 game against another deaf football team, the quarterback for Gallaudet did not want to risk the deaf opponent peeking into his signs with the teammates so he gathered them around in a tight circle hiding the calling out of plays in ASL. 

A couple of weeks ago, AT&T partnered with Gallaudet University, the world’s only university designed for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, to debut a 5G-connected augmented reality helmet to call plays. Wearing the helmet, a player doesn’t have to hear a play call but can see it. On top of developing the helmet, AT&T also donated $500,000 to the Gallaudet football program, and every Bison player got a new helmet. 

Here is how it works:

  • The coach will select a play using a tablet.
  • The device sends the information to the quarterback.
  • The play then appears on a see-through digital screen inserted inside the helmet.
  • The quarterback relays the play to his teammates in the huddle.

The 5G-connected helmet from AT&T uses the same technology that powers cell phones across the United States. The company placed a microprocessor inside the helmet. It is connected to a lens mounted on the top of the helmet’s facemask.

(AT&T's 5G-connected football helmet for deaf and hard-of-hearing football players.)
(AT&T's 5G-connected football helmet for deaf and hard-of-hearing football players.)

Benefits of Innovative Design

One of the issues that this 5G-connected helmet will help resolve is the communication barrier between the coach and the quarterback. If the coach wants to get his quarterback’s attention and change the play, or as they call it, audible out of one, sometimes the quarterback is not looking at the sideline for waving arms that can capture his attention. This means the coach will have to live with the play called and its result, despite what he sees pre-snap. 

The helmet will change that. The athletes will be able to showcase their skills and talents on the field/court. This groundbreaking technology could create new opportunities for deaf or hard-of-hearing coaches on hearing football teams as well! Opportunities abound. 

This comes at a time when one of the flashpoints of the current 2023 college football season is the sign-stealing operation the University of Michigan is under investigation for by the NCAA. All of this could, in theory, one day be avoided with the use of a 5G-connected helmet, one that Gallaudet University uses. There will be less sign-stealing during live-game action between the players and coaches. 

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Other applications

A 5G-connected helmet could potentially help improve safety on construction sites or for first responders. The helmet could enable the ease of real-time communication and access to vital data that can improve situational awareness and lead to concerted efforts of enhanced production. The work environment for construction workers and first responders can be chaotic at times so being able to coordinate effectively goes a long way. 

Sound of Silence

Gallaudet University and AT&T partnered together for this national commercial 'Sound of Silence' about the AT&T 5G helmets. The commercial made its debut on Saturday, Oct. 14, on ESPN's College GameDay. You will see the ad throughout the remainder of the 2023 college football season.

Final Word

While the NCAA greenlit this 5G-connected helmet on a one-game trial basis, we are hopeful that this becomes the standard going forward. The NCAA does not currently allow certain in-game technology such as helmet radios that are commonplace at the high school and NFL levels. 

We here at Nagish cheer on Gallaudet University and AT&T’s mission to make football more accessible and inclusive for all athletes! Click here to read more press releases about their mission. 

Colton Jannusch
Colton Jannusch

A passionate and dedicated English teacher who creates an inclusive and engaging learning environment, inspiring students to develop their language skills and cultivate a lifelong love for literature.

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