FOOTBALL | Bulldogs peek into the future

Google Glass captured a first-person view of Henry Furman ’14 running an option play at practice last week.
Google Glass captured a first-person view of Henry Furman ’14 running an option play at practice last week. Photo by Digital Surgeons.

Some say innovation is the key to success. This year, the Yale football team is hoping it can turn technological innovation into wins with Google Glass.

At practice on Sept. 17, the Bulldogs partnered with Digital Surgeons, a New Haven-based digital marketing group, to have starting quarterback Henry Furman ’14 take snaps wearing Google Glass near the end of practice.

A video posted on Vimeo by Digital Surgeons shows the world through Furman’s eyes as he surveys the defense, runs the option and throws a touchdown.

“It was a fun experience,” Furman said in a message to the News. “The device is very lightweight and the ‘glass’ part only covers about a quarter of a normal glass lens.”

Google Glass is a wearable computer that looks like a pair of glasses. It can record video, take pictures and connect to the Internet, among other functions.

In February, Google opened an application process for members of the public to purchase an early version of Glass. Since then, only 10,000 pairs have been made available worldwide, and one of those pairs went to Digital Surgeons.

“[Associate Athletic Director of Marketing] Patrick O’Neill came to us and was looking to figure out new, exciting ways to promote Yale football,” said David Salinas, CEO of Digital Surgeons. “We had a brainstorming meeting and the idea came out of that.”

Salinas mentioned numerous ways to use Glass with the football team, both on and off the field.

“I think it has a ton of potential,” Salinas said. “A quarterback might be able to see the plays dynamically in Glass. Think about how immersive the playbook could be when the quarterback doesn’t have to have everything committed to memory.”

Yale football is not the first use of Google Glass on the gridiron. Free agent NFL punter Chris Kluwe was also selected through the Google Glass Explorer program, and he posted a video earlier in the year of him punting at Oakland Raiders training camp while wearing Glass.

As far as the future of Glass within Yale athletics as a whole, Salinas remained coy.

“We have some other concepts in football, and we’ve had a discussion around hockey as well,” Salinas said. “We want to know if it’s possible to create a new type of fan experience in sports.”

Although the technology is nascent, players, coaches and fans alike can all see the potential benefits.

“It would definitely be great to see what players are looking at and be able to coach them from the film,” head coach Tony Reno said.

Furman agreed, saying that the ability to see what a quarterback sees during a given play would be “incredibly useful” for coaches.

However, Glass does raise some questions for the future of football. Salinas wondered about the potential legality of having offensive coordinators see what the quarterback sees, calling plays through Glass and even communicating with the quarterback during the play.

The biggest drawback of Glass could be the unintentional consequences of such a powerful device.

“Google Glass caught almost everything, including the fact that I probably need a haircut,” Furman said.

The Elis open their home slate this Saturday against Cornell at noon.

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