The NFL Pro Bowl gives the league an opportunity to test new technology. NFL Football Operations faces a delicate balance: determining how to innovate while respecting and preserving the game’s traditions, integrity and competitive equity. New technology must integrate smoothly into the game and work with technologies that the league already uses, and the Pro Bowl is the perfect setting to determine whether the value it would provide aligns with the efforts needed to support it.
Learn more how the league balances technology with tradition.
In the 2015 game, the league plans several tests.
This year the league introduced the use of Microsoft Surface Pro tablets on the sidelines. At the Pro Bowl, the referee will be able use a tablet to review any challenged play without having to leave the field — a procedure similar to that in college football.
When a challenge is initiated, the instant replay assistant will bring a wired tablet and a wired Bose headset to the referee on the field. The tablet will serve as a video monitor, and the referee will see the same replay video on it as he would under the hood.
The NFL’s vice president of officiating, Dean Blandino, will continue to evaluate the feasibility of this process until game time. If the league isn’t comfortable with this test, the current reliable replay process will be used.
To generate social media buzz, players will be allowed to participate in conversations on Twitter from the sidelines.
A league public relations representative will have a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet behind each bench, near the Sideline Viewing System (SVS) tablets. During the game players can use it to tweet what they are experiencing, giving fans unprecedented access.
The league wants to know whether players and coaches are interested in accessing video during games through the SVS, rather than by viewing still images or prints.
To do this, two Microsoft Surface Pro tablets will be set up directly behind each bench. One will carry the feed of the high end-zone camera; the other will carry the feed of the high sideline camera. League personnel will play the video for players and coaches upon request.
The league will also test:
The NFL may adopt any of these technological advances — or none of them. The league puts every technological advance through its paces. Any change to the game goes through an exhaustive testing process that includes more than the Pro Bowl.