clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

How the Bengals utilize the technology of the Microsoft Surface

You ever see those blue tablets on the sidelines? They do more than you think.

Cleveland Browns v Detroit Lions Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

You ever heard of a football coach saying he can’t judge anything until he sees the tape? No? Then maybe you’ve never seen this gem before:

While football fans are limited to what CBS, FOX, NBC and ESPN decide to showcase in their broadcasts in-game, players and staff are able to see every angle of every play immediately after it happens, allowing for instant analysis and for in-game adjustments.

Such a concept wasn’t possible a handful of years ago, but the partnership between the NFL and Microsoft Surface make it a reality.

For Bengals Video Assistant Brooks Santanello, the technology is invaluable.

“The Microsoft Surfaces are fantastic because as soon as the play is over and we have new down and distance, those pictures are uploaded onto the devices instantaneously,” Santanello told

The “tape” (that’s not actually tape anymore and hasn’t been for many years) used by teams consist of two angles of every play; one from the press box that shows all 22 players on the field and one from above the end zone. Multiple pictures are taken from both angles before and right after every snap and they’re uploaded immediately to the Microsoft Surfaces. This allows for teams to recognize what their opposition is doing in real time, while also identifying any issues in their own scheme.

But this isn’t just a photo album: it’s dynamic.

Users can zoom in and out on the images, as well as draw on them with the stylist compatible with the Microsoft Surface. Perhaps the most impressive feature is it’s usability in inclement weather.

“It can be pouring down rain and we would be able to use them like they were in the office,” said Santanello. “If we ever have any issues, we just go to the Purple Hats and they take care of it immediately.”

Think of the Purple Hats as the I.T. department for the sidelines of an NFL team. Since every team utilizes the technology provided by Microsoft, they ensure that each team receives equal support in case something goes wrong.

The Surface hasn’t completely taken over the sidelines, as coaches still utilize traditional play sheets, but so much is done in-between and during plays away from the cameras that impacts the game, and this relatively new technology has made it all the more seamless and unlike anything we’ve seen in the sport.

“The simplicity of the Surface system has made life not only easier for players and coaches, but for the operators as well,” Santanello said. “There are no delays and they are simple to operate. The Surfaces are extremely beneficial to the success of the team.”