Digital in-helmet display offers deaf and hard of hearing athletes and coaches a new, visual way of communicating powered by 5G technology
AT&T Media Release | October 5, 2022
AT&T* and Gallaudet University1, the global leader in bilingual education for deaf and hard of hearing students, have collaborated to create the first 5G-connected football helmet—making the game more inclusive by enhancing on-field communication for student-athletes who use American Sign Language. The helmet2 will be used for the first time in NCAA Division III competition during Gallaudet’s home game against Hilbert College, on Oct. 7 at 12 p.m. ET.
As a staple of college sports, we’re always exploring ways to use our expertise in connectivity to advance the way coaches, athletes and fans experience the game. When it came to developing the helmet, we saw an opportunity for 5G technology to make sports more inclusive—and there was no better partner to take possibility to reality than Gallaudet.
From inventing the modern-day huddle in 1894 to serving as the global leader in education for deaf and hard of hearing students today, Gallaudet University has long been a pioneer for innovation. Deaf and hard of hearing athletes have a long history of breaking barriers and proving their innovation and talent on the field.
The helmet will allow coaches on the sideline to select a play from a tablet that will send the play to a lens inside the helmet. The quarterback wearing the helmet will receive the play in augmented reality on the digital display located within the visor. AT&T 5G provides the reliability and low latency for plays to be sent and received at a speed that keeps up with the pace of the game.
By displaying the coach’s play through augmented reality (AR), this technology eliminates a gap for deaf and hard of hearing athletes, making football more inclusive. It can also reduce miscommunication and unwarranted penalties.
“We work out the same way as every other college football program, we practice the same way, we compete the same way,” said Coach Chuck Goldstein, Head Football Coach, Gallaudet University. “The difference between coaching a hearing team compared to a Deaf team is first the communication. The AT&T 5G-connected helmet will change football.”
“The new AT&T 5G-connected helmet will have a major impact on the game of football, especially for our deaf and hard of hearing players who lacked direct access to communications with their coaches during their high school years,” said Shelby Bean, special teams coordinator and former player for Gallaudet University. “This will help to level the playing field for mainstreamed athletes. As a former player, I am very excited to see this innovative technology change our lives and the game of football itself.”
The applications for a 5G-connected helmet have reach beyond college football—it could open possibilities of inclusion for any sport that requires helmets. But even more possibility exists in any environment where there’s a need for a helmet and instant communication. Could a 5G-connected helmet improve safety on construction sites or for first responders? And even potentially lead to more job opportunities for the deaf community? We’ll continue to work with partners to explore how this technology and software can be more widely adopted and create meaningful change, both in sports and beyond.
“Together with Gallaudet, we are proving that connecting changes everything,” said Corey Anthony, senior vice president of network engineering and operations at AT&T. “Our expertise in connectivity combined with Gallaudet’s legacy of breaking down barriers has created a helmet that not only transforms the way deaf and hard of hearing athletes engage in sports but opened up endless possibility for innovation.”
In gratitude to the players and coaches at Gallaudet University for their collaboration on the development of the AT&T 5G-connected helmet, we are donating $500,000 to the school’s football program. In addition to the 5G-connected helmet and devices, we are giving every Gallaudet player a new helmet.
To learn more, visit Connection Changes Everything.