Technology may be changing the way we live everyday, but now it’s changing the hobby. Now signing autographs doesn’t even require the use of your hands.
Former Saints special teamer Steve Gleason recently signed a jersey — using only his eyes.
In a combined effort with the NFL, Microsoft, marketing agency KBS, Answer ALS and Gleason, who is stricken with ALS, a series of special auctions of memorabilia will be held to benefit ALS research, featuring items signed by the former NFL player.
Gleason became a household name when he blocked a punt during the first post-Hurricane Katrina game at the Superdome in 2006. Known as the “Rebirth,” many attribute Gleason’s block as the catalyst for the Saints’ successful play following the devastation of the hurricane, as well as the act that galvanized a hurricane-torn city. The play was immortalized on a bronze statue in front of the Superdome.
Gleason, diagnosed with ALS in 2011, is unable to use his arms or legs. Microsoft developed the technology, which tracks Gleason’s eye movement while a robotic arm with a marker equipped signs the jerseys, allowing the former Saint to sign autographs without using his arms.
Answer ALS, the non-profit formed in 2013 as a result of an ALS summit called by the special teams star, has worked with Microsoft to develop technology to assist ALS patients, including the eye-tracking, jersey-signing apparatus, since 2014.
The jersey signing took place in the middle of the Superdome and was captured on film, the exact spot where Gleason blocked the punt ten years ago. The film was featured in a short video and will be used to promote the ongoing auction.
The auction of the Gleason jersey, which is the first of many items to be signed by him, closed on September 30, 2016; however, several items signed by current and former players, from Eli Manning to Joe Montana, will be featured as part of the indefinite sale on NFL’s auction site, www.nflauction.nfl.com, and will be dedicated to further ALS research.
Technology for the win.