Partners. Watch: Life-changing reaction from deaf fans as they wear haptic shirts at St. James' Park

10 May 24

Last month young fans David Wilson and Ryan Gregson captured the hearts and minds of Newcastle fans around the world, telling their story of being deaf supporters at St. James' Park

Newcastle Utd
Written by

Now, to mark Deaf Awareness Week, their story continues to be told through the ground-breaking 'Unsilence The Crowd' campaign introduced by Sela, the club's principal partner.

In an awe-inspiring video, fans join David and Ryan to understand how matchdays feel without the sound of the crowd, before Sela and CuteCircuit's haptic shirts allowed them, and a group of mascots, to feel the noise of St. James' Park, thanks to groundbreaking technology which debuted at the type: entry-hyperlink id: 4EBrpMsdvX4Pq7RzXcbpwR last month.

The shirts worked by using conductive textiles and haptic modules that are integrated into the fabric. Broadcast microphones capture the sound around the pitch, which is then converted from analogue to digital format using specialised software. This software transforms the crowd noise into touch data which is then wirelessly transmitted to the shirt via an antenna in real time.

In addition to the haptic SoundShirts™, the film also celebrates Sela's donation of its front-of-shirt sponsorship for the launch match to RNID, the national charity supporting the 12 million people in the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus. This was a historic occasion, marking the first time a hearing loss charity has been promoted on a Premier League front-of-shirt, as well as the launch of the cutting-edge shirts.

Speaking on the video and campaign, Newcastle United's Chief Commercial Officer, Peter Silverstone, said: "When Sela shared the idea and technology behind the haptic shirts, we supported the concept immediately, knowing it would make such an impact to our supporters who are deaf or have hearing loss.

"Newcastle United's partnership with Sela continues to provide spectacular experiences for our growing global fanbase. We are also proud that, together, we can shine a light on the positive work of Newcastle United Foundation as well as the city of Newcastle itself. This inspiring campaign is highly innovative and the first-of-its-kind.

"Unsilence The Crowd fills everybody associated with this initiative with deep pride, from all Newcastle United, Newcastle United Foundation, Sela and RNID, along with all stakeholders who have helped make this possible.

"Through the global appeal of Newcastle United, Unsilence The Crowd reached fans in over 200 countries around the world. We believe that this campaign will be truly game-changing for football and expect it will revolutionise the matchday experience for any fan who is deaf or has hearing loss, regardless of which team they support."

Ibrahim Mohtaseb, Senior Vice President of Sela, added: "Ensuring every fan is able to experience the amazing atmosphere is so important to us as a sponsor of Newcastle United.

"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."

Ryan Genz, Francesca Rosella, Co-Founders of CuteCircuit - SoundShirt inventors, said: "It was priceless to see the deaf children and adult fans react to the game in such an incredible manner and being able to enjoy a full immersion in the game's atmosphere.

"This is an historic moment as it's the first time the SoundShirt has been used at a football match. We are beyond excited to see more fans enjoy it in all future games."

Following research gathered by RNID, which revealed 71 per cent of people surveyed believe new technology can be used to improve the matchday experience and make live sporting events more accessible, Sela set out to improve the fan experience.

Teri Devine, Director for Inclusion at RNID, said: "One in five adults in the UK are deaf or have hearing loss, but people often face barriers in everyday life - including in live sports events. It's fantastic to see Sela and Newcastle United leading the way in championing this technology which has the potential to have a real and lasting impact on how people who are deaf and have hearing loss experience live sports.

"We're excited to be part of this collaboration and we hope this exposure opens up conversations amongst football fans about hearing loss and encourages other football clubs to raise their game and make sure deaf fans are fully included."

Related Content