A Play Calling Problem
During the 2019 NFL preseason, the Philadelphia Eagles realized their defensive coordinators were struggling to quickly communicate formations with players on the field. Their defense was using a stack of 27 large queue cards to relay plays to the D-line. The problem became obvious – large cards were cumbersome, difficult to flip through, and became disorganized throughout a game. All leading to slower play-calling during crucial game-time moments.
Jim Schwartz, the Eagles Defensive Coordinator, had a vision to replace the pesky cards with a single piece of technology that could show plays a press of a button. Jim’s idea spread through the organization and gained momentum until it was decided they would make a change. With a core vision and a key problem – the Philadelphia Eagles brought in Oat Foundry to design a solution.
During the first conversation, we learned of the many regulations the NFL has on signage and needs from the Eagles.
- No LEDs
- No pole/ground mounts
- No wireless components
- Easy to transport
Armed with valuable information from the first discussion, we hit the field running. Our team split up, searching for any possible existing solutions that could be repurposed and ideas for “from scratch” ideas. Off the shelf or repurposed solutions can often be modified to make an effective prototype for the final solution.
After a thorough review, we decided on a device that utilized electromechanical pixels. They have an on & off state – when programmed in certain orders they can effectively communicate numbers and letters.
With a base communication technology selected, we moved to designing the casing, the interior components, and the controls.
For the design, we focused on increasing the speed at which a play can be called. Ergonomics was the largest factor in the speed of a play call – the coach’s body movement was our most valuable asset here. We learned from the coach’s game-time movements that the box needed several handles, giving it a quick “grab-and-call” feel.
The initial casing concept was built using aluminum which proved to be durable and water-resistant. The initial prototype was sent directly to an Eagles practice for user testing.
With The Eagle’s usage feedback, we decided to switch the casing to carbon fiber – making the casing even lighter while maintaining the current durability and weather resistance.
This season, the Eagles can be seen with three play calling boxes to interact with the D-line. Though we worked side by side with the Eagles to develop the concept, the product is now commercially available. College and NFL teams are struggling with effective and quick play-calling, Fast Box is now the technology working to improve sideline communication efforts.
Click here to learn more about ordering a Fast Box.