Tonight, when the New York Giants face off against the Buffalo Bills in the first NFL preseason game of the year, something will be different. The game itself will still be the 11-person smash-em-up affair that we all know and love, but the sidelines will be seeing a significant upgrade — the Sideline Viewing System, powered by the Surface Pro 2.
As part of a $US400 million partnership, including a new NFL app for Xbox and Windows 8, Microsoft has developed a system, optimised for the Surface Pro 2, that "allows NFL teams to review plays instantly on the sidelines and up in the booths," according to Engadget. When the NFL and Microsoft made the deal in 2013, many speculated that the tablet could replace a head coach's reliance on laminated playbooks and Polaroids to figure out the pitfalls and shortcomings of previous drives. Although that's still a future possibility, the Surface tabs will only be providing instant playback that allows players to draw on the videos and images John Madden style.
Much like football players themselves, these tablets will be able to withstand some punishment. They're ruggedised to work in Green Bay's blistering snows or a rain-soaked Sunday at Soldier Field. The tabs also work on the NFL's private network to protect against any would-be hackers. Of course, all these specialised features are nice, but the tablets themselves are already out of date. Coaches and player also can't use any other apps except the NFL-tailored software, making it a pretty limited piece of technology.
Tablets and football isn't a completely new idea, The New York Times highlighted several teams who used iPads during practice back in 2011, but Microsoft is finally bringing slates to the sidelines. Somehow, I get the feeling this all just one big ad for Microsoft, but at least it's more creative than a billboard. Either way, somewhere Russell Wilson rejoices. [Engadget]
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