Microsoft Surface Tablets Will Be Used On NFL Sidelines This Season To Replace Black And White Photos, Look For Them In Pre-Season

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Aug 03, 2014 09:27 PM EDT

The NFL is upgrading its black and white sideline photos to Surface tablets this season.

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Players--particularly the QB--and coaches have traditionally looked through Polaroids taken before and after the snap and run to the sideline to analyze formations and plays. The NFL and Microsoft's relatively new partnership means the league will turn to Surface tablets this year to replace those photographs, according to Bloomberg.

The Surface Pro 2 devices will be limited versions of the normal retail models--13 of them will be kept in a refrigerated box on the sideline. The cameras are disabled, and they can only connect to private in-stadium Wi-Fi. Everything is disabled aside from the ability to view photos, which will now be in color. They are also covered in bulky waterproof cases, to keep them functioning in any environment.

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Teams are not obligated to switch to Surfaces, but they will be provided regardless. However with the speed advantage they bring (reportedly around 20 seconds quicker than before), most teams will likely want to make the jump. The photos can also be annotated on the tablet, which is useful for walking through a play or demonstrating a point.

Bloomberg points out that the tablets will belong to the NFL and only lent to the teams during the game. Tampering or cheating should not be an issue (partially due to the limited features) as the NFL heavily regulates such additions and changed its rules to incorporate the Surfaces--look for them on the sidelines for the first time tonight in the preseason game between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.

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