In the first instance of tablets and mobile computing devices being used on the sidelines of NFL games, Microsoft Surface tablets will be used by coaches and players in the upcoming season as part of a reported $400 million multi-year deal between the NFL and Microsoft.
The Sideline Viewing System is meant to help coaches and players study their opponents in realtime from the sideline, which has traditionally been done with old school, black-and-white photos.
Each team will have 13 Surface tablets on the sideline and 12 in the coaches’ box, according to SFGate.
These tablets will be owned and operated by the National Football League and run on a closed wireless network, as well as locked in a temperature-controlled cart in between games to ensure no one is tampering or cheating with the data on the tablets.
Plus, the Surface tablets will have no access to the internet, nor will they have the ability to play video.
The Surface Sideline Viewing System will not only allow for faster relay of photographs to players and coaches, but will also allow them to enlarge those photos, draw on them to show plays, etc.
Players and coaches won’t be required to use the technology, so the traditional Polaroid photo option will still be available to the ultra superstitious or tech-averse.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Microsoft Surface tablets sprout up during football season — Fox Sports anchors have been using them for a while during half-time reports, pre-game shows, etc.
However, this is the first time the deal has shown meaningful, technological progress for the game itself.