Answered: Tournament software upgrade

I was around for last Sunday’s contest in Poway. It’s fantastic what’s done in software to facilitate running a competition, but I have a serious issue with how information is presented in the pits and to spectators: The text is all way too small. These screen layouts need a measure of user configuration.

The current audience and pit displays look fine if you’re within ten feet and watching them on a desktop monitor. But project them on a wall in the pit, or on a large projection screen in the gym, and you can’t read them halfway across the room.

For the audience display, the software needs an option to make that clock at least four times larger, and move it off the edge of the screen, perhaps somewhere in the upper-right corner, or centered near the bottom. Don’t simply put white text on a square background, overlay larger white numbers, with black outlines for contrast. (The match phase display is also completely unreadable. I couldn’t tell that those squiggles were “Autonomous” or “Driver Control” until they were announced.)

Putting the team numbers in a strip at the bottom may not work well with a larger typeface. I would move them to a column in the lower-right and lower-left corners of the screen–and again, make them large enough to read at a distance.

Also, some more effort should be made to identify those teams by more than just their numbers. The kids have a pretty good mapping of numbers to teams and schools in their heads… but the spectators don’t. Is team 99 Hilltop HS from across the county? Or is it Murietta Valley’s team? (It’s neither, it’s Terrier Robotics from Redlands. Oops.) The end-of-match score display sort of does this… the team names are almost readable, but the school and city names are completely not. That’s information that’s useful within the match–who are you allied with? Who are you up against? Perhaps each team’s name, school, and city can cycle through at 5-second intervals next to the number:

1622 POWAY, CA

The match schedule reports should also include a version that attaches team names and schools, as should the alliance selection screen. Our announcers were reading off nothing but numbers all day. Top question: “Okay, so who’s THAT?” You couldn’t ask the announcers, they didn’t have that information.

Your request will be passed on to the developers. Thanks for the suggestion.