A mobile app created by NJIT students that gives middle and high school basketball teams a searchable database of performance statistics is the winner of the New Jersey Apps Challenge, an innovation contest initiated two years ago by former U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).Called Scoutlit, but listed in the app store under the name "Basketball Stats Keeper," the program allows coaches and parents to track players’ and teams’ progress over several seasons. Over 45,000 teams have registered with the service, which lets users digitally record player statistics on the app and automatically sync them with the website. Data points include shots made and missed, fouls, steals, blocks, and offensive and defensive rebounds.
The contest was launched at a 2012 event in New Jersey at which Lautenberg and then-FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski were joined by leaders from New Jersey’s education, business and technology communities to announce new initiatives to spur high-tech innovation in New Jersey. Three universities – NJIT, Stevens Institute of Technology, and Rutgers University – participated in the challenge, which was open to students, faculty members and recent graduates.
A panel of judges evaluated the entries based on several metrics, including overall utility and potential commercial success before selecting an overall winner, as well as winners for each university.
“From students to recent alumni, all of the teams entered professional quality software that has been featured in a commercial app store. The winners were separated by only a few points and I am sure that all of these developers have a bright future,” said Donald Sebastian, senior vice president for technology and economic development at NJIT and president and CEO of the New Jersey Innovation Institute, who added that 40 percent of the entrants in the challenge were developers with NJIT roots.
Lautenberg’s vision was to stake a claim for New Jersey as an apps development “Silicon Valley,” and he saw university-related innovation as key to this ambition.
“Before devoting his life to politics, Frank spent several decades building an IT company in New Jersey and understood well from his own experience the vital role that innovative technologies play in advancing not just our prosperity, but our quality of life as well,” said Bonnie Englebardt Lautenberg, the senator’s widow. “He was enthusiastic about the New Jersey Apps Challenge because it was designed to do exactly that – to spur high-tech innovation and economic growth in his home state. He also thought it critical that we give young people the tools and the opportunity to carry on the great Garden State tradition of invention and entrepreneurship.”
Less than two years after its 2012 launch, Scoutlit became the number one basketball stats-keeping app on both Google and Amazon out of about 50 competing products, and it has been downloaded in all 50 states and every continent except Antarctica. This past season it was among the top 1 percent of the most downloaded Android sports apps.
Scoutlit provides a few analytics at this point, functioning like a stock chart in showing a team's points over time broken down into free throws, two- and three-point shots, and offering pie charts displaying the percentage of shots taken by different players on a team. Future plans include more advanced analytics, such as a visualization to highlight combinations of players that achieve the best results on court, as well as live datacasts of games so parents, fans, and others can see a play-by-play stream of stats, including shots made and missed, according to David Daudelin ’12 and Kenny Chang '13, Scoutlit co-founders.
The Rutgers winner is an app that gives access to stories, photos, and other content published by the university’s student-written newspaper, the Daily Targum. The Stevens winner is an app called MeloDroid that allows Android users to sync their iTunes music and playlists to their phone over a wireless network and USB cable, and to use their phone as a remote control for iTunes, among other features.
NJIT additionally awarded two of its teams Honorable Mentions for an app that aggregates data for health care providers transitioning to electronic health records (EHR), allowing them to monitor their progress and to reassess and reengineer their systems, and for an app called Poker-Stats, a poker statistics record for iPhone.