NFL players and coaches won’t be the only ones using a Microsoft Surface tablet on the sidelines this season.
NFL referees will now use the tablet to review replays for the 2017-18 season, replacing the “under-the-hood” monitor.
The new technology was in action for the first time during Thursday night’s preseason opener in Canton, Ohio. Dean Blandino, the NFL’s former vice president of officiating, noted that there are two tablets at each 20-yard line for the referees to use.
NFL debuts replay tablets tonite. 2 tablets, 1 at each 20 yd line for ref to use during reviews. Replaces under the hood monitor #HOFGame
— Dean Blandino (@DeanBlandino) August 3, 2017
Patriots.com notes how the tablets are hard-wired to the video feeds and that the under-the-hood system is still in place in case the tablets malfunction. Referees will communicate with league officials via headset while they watch replays. There’s also an assistant who holds up the tablet for the referee:
Years of altar serving in the Catholic church may have prepared me to hold the review tablet in NFL games. pic.twitter.com/JMX0hzNqJ8
— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) August 4, 2017
The NFL is using the tablets to speed up the replay review process.
Since Microsoft inked a $400 million, five-year partnership with the NFL in 2013, players and coaches have used the Surface tablet to review past plays on the sideline during games.
Microsoft Surface revenue fell 2 percent in the latest quarter to $945 million, because of lower volumes sold, according to the company’s earnings report.