Jun 20, 2012
Anyone who has ever played a pickup game of any sport knows how frustrating it can become when the score is up for debate. Rarely at these smaller games is a scoreboard available for use and arguments about a scoring discrepancy an quickly become heated and take the fun out of an otherwise enjoyable game. Fortunately, thanks to KickStarter, a solution could be in the works for millions of pick-up game regulars. After the usual table tennis argument, Madison, WI native Bob Baddeley had the idea for a portable scoreboard to aid in keeping tally of points or time. But Bob did not stop at simply creating a simple scoreboard, as I will mention later the Portable Scoreboard can interact with any smartphone, external buttons, has an Open API with full Wiki, and even comes with a remote control just for good measure. Allowing for all of these customization options ensures that the scoreboard will suit any need and as we have seen, give the internet access to the internal software and the possibilities are literally limitless.
Also impressive is the full compatibility with switches for any situation; for example, the KickStarter video shows the scoreboard counting sit ups from a mat of the floor and tallying table tennis points from a simple set of push buttons located under the table. All the instructions to creating these switches are conveniently located in a forum and wiki so even the most basic of users can jury rig a set of paddles to keep track of their late night foosball tournaments. The Open API allows for interactivity with the internet as well, allowing for the scoreboard to display such things as Twitter followers, sports scores, or website hits. This is almost necessary because, out of the box, the scoreboard cannot keep track of both time and score, with Bob essentially challenging some future user to create it for the community.
The situations that this could be used for are incredible, and I am kind of surprised there has not been a similar device marketed before. At 18″ x 10″ the device is large and bright enough to be read from across a soccer pitch and the mobile phone app allows for scores to be posted online, live, to the Portable Scores website directly from the mobile app. While not immediately apparent, the ability to keep track of past games online and archive them and have physical proof of the winners is a great idea that really takes this device to the next level. A few foreseeable drawbacks are short battery life and price. If the donating scale is any indication of projected price, the $125 donation is the first one that gives a scoreboard, and that is just a limited Early-Bird special; so look for this to debut around $150. The scoreboard can be plugged into an AC outlet for indoor use and a battery pack for outdoors. The battery pack is not enclosed inside the device and the KickStarter page does not specify if the device comes with a battery pack or not, just that “you can have a AA pack, or for really long life use C or D batteries.” With the brightness turned all the way up, like for a sunny day in a field, the battery life is projected to be as low as 3 hours, which is troubling especially considering the price of C and D batteries. But assuming some of these problems are addressed this is still an amazing project led by an ambitious developer, and I hope that the rest of the internet becomes as excited as I am.