This upcoming football season, NFL players and coaches have the option to use a new device that will help them make more efficient in-game improvements: The Surface Pro 2.
Microsoft is equipping teams this fall with customized tablets — 13 for players on the sidelines and another 12 for offensive and defensive coordinators in the coaching boxes.
The weather-proof tablets — which are optional for teams to use — only allow access to a Sideline Viewing System app, which provides photos of recent plays that help players and coaches figure out what was going on in previous possessions.
Historically, team personnel would print out black-and-white images of past plays and put them together in a binder for coaches and players — a process that takes up to 30 seconds for every possession. The Surface tablets help streamline this process.
“Not only will images via Surface be delivered in near real-time, but the Sideline Viewing System App provides more detailed, high-resolution images including with the capabilities to zoom-in and make digital annotations,” Microsoft notes in this blog post.
Sunday’s preseason game between the Bills and Giants was the first time players and coaches used the Surface. One coach noted how his tablet was not working properly in the first half, but after fixing his Surface later in the game he “liked it a lot.”
The Surface deal is part of Microsoft’s partnership it inked with the NFL in May 2013. The NFL also used Surface tablets during this year’s NFL Combine, while medical trainers from select teams used the Surface to monitor concussion information during games last season. Microsoft’s branding was also apparent around NFL stadiums throughout last year.