High-tech helmet: New hope for deaf American football players

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As you can see in this image, Chuck Goldstein, head football coach at Gallaudet University, holds a 5G-connected football helmet designed for deaf and hard of hearing players, at Hotchkiss Field in Washington, DC, on October 26, 2023.

These experimental helmets could be the university’s next communications contribution to the sport loved by millions of Americans.

It was developed by telecoms giant AT&T, and they mostly look like classic football helmets: hard shell exterior, grilled face mask, and the bison mascot logo on the side. Add to that the the clear, plastic lens hanging over one eye.

Coaches send in the play calls from the sidelines via a tablet, so that deaf and hard of hearing athletes can see play calls as quickly as their opponents can hear them.

Coach Chuck Goldstein often finds himself jumping up and down on the sidelines of the field — trying, in vain, to get his players’ attention. Now that hurdle is over.

All but one of the players on the Gallaudet University American football team, in Washington, are all deaf or hard of hearing.

“If our player is not looking at us, they’re not gonna know what we’re telling them,” Goldstein tells AFP.

This is what makes the helmet Goldstein is holding in his hands revolutionary: The helmet is equipped with an augmented-reality eyepiece that can display play calls to the team on the field.

“We communicate fast, just like any other team in the country, but the difference is our players, they don’t hear whistles,” sometimes leading to penalties, Goldstein says.

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It’s never ever a level playing field. But now, the possibilities are endless.

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