Could Google Glass Make Football Safer? Chris Kluwe Thinks So

Minimizing the frequency and severity of injuries, notably concussions, is priority No. 1 for the NFL proper now. Punter Chris Kluwe, who in his enjoying days was never hesitant to say what he imagined the league ought to be performing differently, thinks he may have a answer.

At the TED conference in Vancouver this week, Kluwe gave a talk about how he believes augmented actuality is about to alter the way most sports activities are played, and the way followers see them. Kluwe is a member of the Google Glass Explorer plan, and even wore his Glass throughout a education camp stint with the Oakland Raiders. After his talk, I caught up with him for a a single-on-one.

Chris Kluwe, photographed for TED by James Duncan Davidson

Chris Kluwe, photographed for TED by James Duncan Davidson

Here’s how Kluwe sees AR playing out in football: Before the ball is snapped, a quarterback scans the defense. His helmet-mounted personal computer, seeing the alignment of linebackers and linemen, notifies him, by way of a heads-up projection on his visor, that this seem implies it is 85% probably he’ll have one particular-on-a single coverage on his main receiver. The center snaps the ball, and the QB’s display flashes red on the left to warn him of a blindside rusher coming cost-free. He unloads the ball just in time, hitting his receiver, who has indeed beaten his only defender.

I have a tough time buying this situation, for the cause that I can not see the NFL making it possible for engineering to influence the end result of plays to such a important degree. Right after all, the league only just started out letting coaches use tablet computers on the sidelines to substitute Polaroids and laminated play sheets. Helmet radios have been around for decades but their use is nonetheless restricted to 1 player per side and they have to reduce off 15 seconds before the perform starts.

But Kluwe insists that the financial incentives are too tempting as well ignore. “The cause the league will allow it is since it raises the quality of the item on the discipline,” he advised me.

An unprecedented degree of parity is often cited as one of the principal aspects in professional football’s accomplishment relative to other American sports activities, but you still get blowouts like the Seahawks 43-eight destruction of the Broncos in this year’s Super Bowl. “It was one of the lower watched Super Bowls of the final couple of years due to the fact no one particular was viewing following the second quarter,” noted Kluwe. What if the Broncos had had some technologies that offset Seattle’s physical edge? “Now, all of a sudden, it is a back-and-forth struggle and men and women are invested in the final result.”

Eh…maybe. I feel it would be a difficult sell. What I don’t feel would be a difficult sell at all — what could, in truth, be just the inducement the NFL demands to get over its technophobia — is the other situation Kluwe proffers, the a single wherein helmet-mounted AR techniques are “warning players when they are coming into a dangerous situation” and therefore eliminating traumatic collisions. Kluwe:

Say you’re going across the middle and you don’t know there is a guy coming up to lay you out. An even much better example would be that appropriate now defensive gamers actually really do not know exactly where they’re supposed to hit someone. They cannot go high, they cannot go reduced. It is like, effectively, what do we do? With augmented actuality, you could be searching at your tackle box: Here’s a green region the place you can hit this guy. It is like an airplane going down on a landing strategy, going via the boxes in order to hit the proper zone. Now, as a player, you are lining up on the proper zone so you know you are hitting a spot that will maintain the two of you safe.

It sounds like science fiction, but it is extremely much in trying to keep with the league’s current path of R&ampD, he notes.

They’re previously speaking about placing stuff like accelerometers and GPS sensors in helmets to measure concussive impacts. If you have something like that in your helmet, say you go on a play in which you get cracked going across the middle, now it is flashing red and telling you, ‘You need to have to get out of the game. You have a concussion.’ And it is not just telling you — it’s telling your trainers on the sideline. From a health care standpoint, you can diagnose it immediately and avert those injuries that come about when a player refuses to come out of the game, because no player’s going to get himself out of the game. You risk shedding your task.

Some kind of in-helmet engineering will almost definitely find its way onto the discipline in coming years as the league seeks to ward off the existential threat of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. But for gamers to have screens in their visors telling them in true time how to perform the game — isn’t that a bit antithetical to the spirit of sports activities?

“It depends on what level of technological innovation you want in your sport,” Kluwe says. “If we were taking part in true football, we’d all be wearing leather helmets with no facemasks. We’d be sporting operate boots and cloth pants and jerseys. We wouldn’t have any pads, and we’d be dying out on the field. Technologies in sports is always evolving.”


Note: My headline and Kluwe’s speak both elided a distinction that Google tries to make when speaking about Glass: It is not technically augmented reality. Since the display sits above the eye, not immediately in front of it, utilizes really don’t see an overlay on the physical planet as they would in the situations Kluwe articulates. Kluwe says he considers Glass a phase toward the NFL’s AR future.

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