Leveling the playing field for deaf and hard of hearing athletes, this innovative device is the culmination of a multi-year partnership with Ad agency Translation, AT&T, and Gallaudet University; a college specifically for the D&HoH community.
The project began with a question; how can we use design and technology to improve communication between the coaching staff and football players during a game? Working with GU to learn about the culture and processes of their team, we developed a novel visual communication system that integrates state-of-the-art near eye display technology with AT&T’s 5G network and a custom designed app.
After 2 years of design, development, and testing, the system was approved for trial use by the NCAA’s governing body, and worn by star quarterback Brandon Washington on October 7th, 2023. Brandon made history by scoring the game-winning touchdown with what Forbes called “a breakthrough development” that could change the game forever.
In American Football, clear communication between coach and players is fundamental to success. For the deaf & hard of hearing community, this creates a clear accessibility issue.
Using a human centered design approach, we conducted numerous interactive sessions with the team to understand their specific needs. After each session, new insights were incorporated into the evolving designs and then re-presented to the team, creating a positive feedback loop for development.
HOW IT WORKS
DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT & PRODUCTION
Over a 2 year development process we worked closely with the helmet manufacturer Riddell to design a product that would pass American college football safety standards.
Our integrated tech-stack relies on micro-sized components and a programmable near-eye-display device. After an extensive audit of available technology, we found LetinAR; a bleeding edge prismatic display made from polymer composite, a key material choice for safety reasons.
With our partners at Riddell we developed our design to be robust enough to endure the physicality of the game, and pass the standardized NOCSEA impact testing and radiation tests. Our system also had to have safe radiation levels and rigorous testing was conducted on both fronts before we were granted NCAA trial use approval.
On October, 7th 2023, Gallaudet took to the field to debut this first of it’s kind visual communication tool.
Quarterback Brandon Washington made the game-winning touchdown wearing the helmet, greeted with coverage from every major news-outlet.