The Surface Devices Used During NFL Games Have Custom Software Running In It


Microsoft has signed a $400 million deal with NFL for various marketing activities. In fact, Microsoft is the “The Official Sideline Technology Sponsor of the NFL,” and the Surface is “the official tablet” of NFL. You could have even spotted Surface and Microsoft branding in sidelines during NFL games. Despite all these, a commentator was not aware of the fact that players were given a Surface Pro 2 devices to analyze their games instead of physical photos which they used all these years. The commentator mentioned it as “iPad like tool” when he was trying to mention Microsoft Surface. Microsoft marketing came to know about this and is now working to avoid such mistakes from NFL announcers. Microsoft has coached few announcers on being better able to identify the devices.

NYT yesterday did a long post on usage of Surface on the sidelines of the NFL game, I found some interesting information from it,

So, how did Microsoft win this deal from NFL to have Surface in the hands of players and coaches?

The N.F.L. spoke to several technology companies before settling on Microsoft, partly because it could produce a tablet for the sideline and turn the Xbox into a conduit for N.F.L. content. Microsoft, meanwhile, saw the value in getting its products in front of millions of fans.

In months of discussions with N.F.L. teams, technology experts and the league’s competition committee, Microsoft was told the tablets had to be rugged enough to survive drops, easy enough to use in a hurry and big enough for several people to see its screen at once. They had to work in extreme temperatures (hot and cold), resist glare and hold a battery charge for a full game, and they had to work on a secure wireless network without delays.

Is that a normal Surface Pro device?

A cart holding up to 16 tablets had to have strong wheels so it could be rolled onto the sideline; a tilted top to prevent cups from being left there; and a power supply, a heater and a cooler inside to maintain optimal tablet performance. Microsoft insisted that the box be painted cyan, the same color as the tablet.

Microsoft has made adjustments. Software was adjusted to prevent the tablet from overheating and to make it possible to scroll through photos while zoomed in, instead of having to back out, select a new photo and zoom in again. Microsoft also added a favorites button so coaches could quickly return to photos they liked. Wireless signal and battery indicators were added so coaches would know if the network crashed or the tablet needed to be recharged.

Read the whole story here.

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