Deaf Fans Can now ‘Feel’ Stadium Atmosphere with Sensory Sound Shirts

Sound Shirts

Now, deaf fans can ‘feel’ the electric atmosphere thanks to sensory ‘sound shirts’ that have been discovered. The roar of the crowd reacting to a match-clinching goal is unforgettable as the deaf fans grasp the sounds

Newcastle United’s kit sponsor, Sela, has now developed its world-first technology that helps deaf people understand the sound around them. They collaborated with the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) to make live football more accessible for people with hearing loss. 

How It Works, Converting Sound into Touch

Microphones placed around St James’ Park concert stadium noise into digital sound. The data is transmitted wirelessly to shirts equipped with haptic technology. This technology recreates stadium noise as a touch sensation, similar to the feedback from typing on a phone.

This innovation is part of the Unsilence the Crowd campaign. The initiative aims to provide an inclusive football experience for deaf fans. Research by RNID found that almost three-quarters of people with hearing loss believe haptics can enhance their match-day experience.

Real-Life Impact: Fans’ Reactions

Lifelong Magpies fans David Wilson and Ryan Gregson were among the first to test the kit. They watched their team defeat Tottenham 4-0 in April and declared it a huge win. “For the first time, I felt included 100%,” said Gregson, through a sign language interpreter. “Experiencing the noise through vibration was just wonderful.” Wilson added, “I’ve never felt anything like it.”

Haptics on different areas of the shirt signify specific crowd reactions. Vibrations in the shirt sleeves mean the home team is singing. Buzzing in the back of the shirt indicates an away goal. “It was very quiet round the back,” Gregson jokes.

Sela, a Saudi Arabian events and marketing company, will now offer the technology at all Newcastle home games. They hope more clubs will follow their lead. 

A Call to Action for the Football Community

Sela VP Ibrahim Mohtaseb said, “We would welcome the whole football family to join us by adopting the technology. By acting now, we can collectively make watching live football matches an incredible experience for everyone who loves the game.”

Teri Devine, director for inclusion at RNID, added, “One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss. But people often face barriers in everyday life, including live sports events. It’s fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United championing this technology. It has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.”

The sensory ‘sound shirts’ are revolutionizing the football experience for deaf fans. With continued support and adoption, this technology can ensure that everyone feels the excitement of live football matches. The Unsilence the Crowd campaign is a significant step towards inclusive sporting events.

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