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Here’s how NFL players and coaches use Microsoft’s custom-built Surface tablets on the sidelines

Throughout Sunday’s win over the Giants, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw two uncharacteristic interceptions. Inside minutes after every mistake, Wilson went straight to the bench and instantly had a Microsoft Surface pill in his palms, figuring out what went incorrect.

Welcome to the NFL in 2014.

Because of Microsoft’s $400 million, five-year contract with the NFL, players and coaches this season have began ditching the conventional paper black-and-white pictures of performs used to evaluate earlier possessions, and as a substitute are benefiting from a personalized Surface Professional 2 that Microsoft constructed particularly for NFL sidelines.

We had an opportunity to take a look at the units as we speak, and the very first thing I observed was the sheer weight of the waterproof tablets, which have sturdy casings that add about two kilos and can face up to temperatures starting from 120 to destructive 45 levels.

This is the definition of ruggedized.

“If a coach is absolutely upset at one thing, he can slam the pill on the turf and it’s going to nonetheless work OK,” mentioned Jeff Tran, director of sports activities advertising and marketing and alliances at Microsoft.

I spent a couple of minutes taking part in with the software program, and it’s simple to see why these tablets are extra environment friendly than the conventional paper printouts — 15 instances quicker, Tran famous. Photographs from every play — on offense, protection, and particular groups — are labeled, with the capability to make annotations on every picture with the Surface Pen. Players and coaches can “favourite” particular screenshots that they need to bookmark.

There are 25 Surface tablets obtainable at each NFL sport now for every crew — 13 on the sidelines, and 12 up in the assistant coaches’ cubicles. Units on the sidelines hook up with a personal, safe in-stadium WiFi community, whereas assistant coaches hook as much as a wired connection. All different options of a consumer-grade Surface Professional 2 have been stripped away. The tablets solely enable entry to a Sideline Viewing System app that gives the images of latest performs.

Historically, pictures could be despatched to a printer, and a crew assistant must print the images and compile them right into a binder.

That’s all modified with the Surface. Tran famous that whereas some are adapting the digital instruments slower than others — it appears some commentators haven’t caught on yet, either — 95 p.c of coaches in the cubicles don’t person their printers anymore as a result of they’re relying on the tablets.

In the meantime, quarterbacks like Wilson, Drew Brees, Nick Foles and Blake Bortles have given Microsoft their stamp of approval.

“What we’re seeing is that with every passing week, extra and extra players are utilizing it throughout important moments of the sport,” Tran mentioned.

Some players and coaches have requested for video and playbook info to be loaded on the tablets, however it will likely be awhile earlier than that occurs resulting from the NFL’s stringent approval polices for that kind of content material. Nonetheless, Tran famous that Microsoft has the functionality so as to add these options, which is a part of why the NFL teamed up with the firm in the first place.

“We’re uniquely arrange as a tech firm to offer this resolution just because it’s not simply {hardware}, or software program, or again finish — it’s the full stack,” he mentioned. “And we’re simply getting began.”

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