TKD Scoring Wi-Fi is a software app used within dojangs to score sparring matches. The benefit of using this kind of app is that it gives your "in-school" sparring an almost tournament-like feel.
Product Description Edit
For taekwondo tournaments, the electronic scoring systems (such as TrueScore or KP&P) used to score sparring competitions typically cost thousands of dollars per ring – far outside the range of affordability for typical taekwondo schools. Fortunately, there is an alternative: a software app called TKD Scoring Wi-Fi. Not counting hardware, you can set up one ring using TKD Scoring Wi-Fi for $100 or less.
The basic TKD Scoring Wi-Fi software consists of two different apps:  the server app, which is used by the Recorder (i.e., the Scorekeeper), and  multiple copies of the client app, which are used by the Judges to score the sparring match. Optionally, a third app can be used to power remote score displays.
- The Server app can run on a PC or on an Android tablet – your choice. There are PC versions for Windows, MacOS and Linux. The Server app is free.
- The Client app can run on an Android tablet or on an iOS device, such as an iPhone. For Android devices, a 5-client license costs only $100. For iOS devices, only single-client licenses are available, and they cost $24 each. A trial-version can be downloaded for free for both types of devices.
Just as with the more expensive systems, the basic idea is the same: judges sit at the corners of the sparring ring pressing buttons on their individual tablets to register a point, if a majority of judges register a point within a second of one-another, the Server counts that as a score and displays it on a screen. Unlike the more expensive system, TKD Scoring Wi-Fi does not support electronic sparring gear, such as electronic hogu. As the name implies, this relatively simple sparring system operates over your dojang’s Wi-Fi network rather than employing the more robust, specialized radios used by TrueScore and KP&P.
That having been said, TKD Scoring Wi-Fi is a fun, useful, inexpensive scoring system that’s easy to set up and can add plenty of value to your in-school sparring lessons.
Designing Your System Edit
The first thing you’ll need to decide is what hardware to use with the system. If you already have an old laptop lying around, or old iPod Touches, or old Android tablets, then you’re all set. The apps work fine on older hardware. In our tests of the product, we’re using old 4th Generation iPod Touches as our judging Clients, and they work great.
If you don’t already have some old hardware lying around, you might be able to using some of your school’s other existing hardware. For instance, the computer you’re using at the school’s front desk could be dragged over to the mats at sparring time, or your instructors could install the app on their personal smartphones…but honestly, you’ll probably be happier scrounging up some old hardware to dedicate to just this one use. At our dojang, we went onto eBay and bought 2 Android tablets and 3 old iPod Touches for a few hundred dollars to build our test system. One Android tablet functions as our Server, and the second tablet functions as a remote display – more on that later.
Here are some things to consider:
- We bought two cheap Android tablets, but they both have HDMI ports, so in retrospect we might have been better off buying just one Android tablet to function as the Server, and hooking up an external monitor to function as the audience’s display.
- In our testing, the Display app tends to be a little buggy. The score it displays doesn’t always stay synchronized well with the Server. Again, we can get around this problem easily by just hooking up an old monitor to the Server’s HDMI port, then turn the monitor to face the audience.
- We chose old iPod Touches as our judging Clients, because we liked their small size. We wanted even our younger students to feel comfortable holding these devices in their small hands. In retrospect though, that may not have been necessary…buying old Android devices on eBay tends to be much cheaper than buying old iOS devices, and it’s not clear that the reduction is size was worth the increase in cost.
- That having been said, you probably will want to find SMALL tablets for the judging Clients. Even adult judges will probably have an easier time “thumbing” their scores onto a small device, rather than cradling a large 10” tablet on their laps.
- The Android app requires Android 2.0 “Eclair” or higher – that’s the 2009 version of Android. Any Android device of this vintage or later should work fine.
- The iOS app requires iOS 5.0 or higher – that’s the 2011 version of iOS. So any iOS devices from about that timeframe or newer ought to work fine.
- The PC app requires JRE 1.6 or higher – that again is a circa 2008 version of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) so really on any Mac/PC of that vintage or newer, you should be fine.
Bottom line: you have a lot of options here: old PCs, Android, iOS…whatever you can find inexpensively ought to work. Just remember that the Server does NOT run on iOS devices, and the remote Display (if you opt to use one) runs only on Android.
Finally, you’re going to need a Wi-Fi network to connect your devices to. If your dojang already has a Wi-Fi network, then you’re all set. If not, you can also choose one of your Android or iOS devices to serve as a Wi-Fi “hot spot” for the system; the hotspot does not need to be connected to the Internet for this work. (In other words, these apps do not require an Internet connection, just a Wi-Fi connection.) We won’t go into the details here, but to create a Wi-Fi “hot spot” on iOS you’d use the “Personal Hotspot” item under Settings; on Android you’d go to the “Connections”item under Settings and choose “Tethering.”
Installing the Software Edit
Here’s where you want to be a little careful. For our test system we used 3 old iPod Touches that we’d purchased on eBay; we set up each iPod using the same Apple ID and then we downloaded the iOS app three times. Mistake! The app insists that each device have its own license, and it enforces that by checking to see which email address each device is tied to. Fortunately, the app’s error message was helpful about telling us what the problem is.
So, we deleted the app on 2 of the 3 devices, created two new Apple IDs, and reinstalled the app on the 2 devices using these two new Apple IDs. Nope! That didn’t work either. It turns out the reinstalled apps were “remembering” (presumably via some configuration file hidden in the bowels of the software) that the app was tied to our original email address. The fix turned out to be simple, though it took us a while to find: under Settings, we went to the “TKD Scoring Wi-Fi Client” settings, and selected Restore Purchase Premium – that forced the app to reset its license, and we were all set!
The moral of the story is that you’ll save yourself some headaches if you do things in the right order:
- The Server is free, so it doesn’t require a license. You can download and install that with no problem.
- The Clients cost money, but you don’t pay when you download. (It would actually be easer if you did.) Instead, you download for free, and then purchase the license with an in-app purchase.
- But remember that if you’re installing on iOS devices, the easiest way to install is to make sure each device is already set to use its own unique Apple ID first, and THEN download and install the app. That’s a bit of a pain, since it means you’ll need to make up a bunch of throw-away Apple IDs that you plan to use only once…but it’s not unbearable.
- If you’re installing on Android devices you have a slightly easier option: you can purchase a 5-client license that allows five devices to all share the same Google Play ID. If you plan to set up two or more sparring rings though, you’ll want at least 6 clients (with 3 judges per ring) so again…you may wind-up creating throw-away Google Play IDs that you use only once.
Those are minor annoyances though, and they’re there to make sure that the publisher gets paid per client (which – at this price – is only fair), so as long as you plan ahead you should have no problems.
As alluded to above, the iOS apps are downloadable from the iTunes Store, and the Android apps are downloadable from Google Play. The Mac/Windows/Linux apps are downloadable from the SourceForce website. And just to reiterate:
- All of the app downloads are free: the Server, the Client, and the Display.
- The Client apps used by the judges are free, but licenses are paid-for via in-app purchase, with each license tied to a specific ID (and hence to a specific email address).
Setting Up Your System Edit
The first time you set up your system, it may take a few minutes. One great thing about this system though is that once you have a ring set up with devices, those devices remember each other and stay set-up. So in the middle of your hour-long sparring class, you’re not going to waste 10 minutes fiddling with apps: just turn on the devices, and they’re ready to go.
The first thing you need to do is make sure all your devices are turned-on and on the same WiFi network. Then, the first time you set up the system, you’ll need to start the Server app first. Start the app, and on the lower right-hand side you’ll see a button marked Referees Setup. (the button is poorly labeled...you’re really setting up the judges, not the referee.) Click that button, and you’ll be taken to a screen that shows your server’s IP address. You’ll need this, because the clients connect to the Server by specifying this address.
Next, start the Client apps. The Client is pretty-good about walking you through the setup process. It’ll ask you for the Server’s IP address, and it’ll ask you to name the Client. We used the names Judge 1, Judge 2, and Judge 3 as the names for our old iPods.
If your Server is still on the Referees Setup screen (as it should be) you’ll see the name of the three Clients show up on the screen. This is good. It means those Clients are now paired with this Server, and you’ll probably never need to do this setup again (unless the IP address of the Server changes). If for some reason you don’t see the three Clients show up on the Referees Setup screen, simply backing-out and trying again seems to fix the problem.
Under the Server Preferences button on the Server, you can change how the software operates from a technical standpoint: how many judges must score “simultaneously” in order to register a point, how many seconds of window will count as “simultaneously”, etc.
Under the Game Options button on the Server, you can specify the rules for your match: how many rounds, how long each round will last, how big the point gap can grow before the match is called, etc. The rules are reasonably configurable, but not completely configurable – more on that later.
Using The System Edit
Now that you’ve got everything up-and-running, actually using the apps couldn’t be easier. The Recorder (i.e., the Scorekeeper) simply clicks anywhere on the Server screen to start the timer. The judging Clients are very clever: instead of using different buttons for simple vs. technical kicks, the judge taps vs. swipes the Android or iOS screen. In order words, for a simple kick to the hogu, you just tap the correspond button. For a turning kick, you swipe the button instead. Arguably, this is even more intuitive than the Judge Boxes used by more expensive system such as KP&P and TrueScore.
When the Referee calls for a timeout or a penalty, the Recorder simply clicks the Server screen again to pause the timer, and selects the appropriate button (Kyong-go, Gam-jeom, etc.). Another tap of the screen restarts the timer. Unlike KP&P and TrueScore, there are no dedicated Server buttons for things like injury timeouts, but since you’re just using this system in a classroom setting, that’s not really a problem.
Product Review Edit
So, is this system worth the cost? At our school, we’ve only been using the system for a little while, but so far it works great. By letting students serve as judges during in-class sparring, they’re looking to think more about how to make sure a point gets registered with the judges. When we let the parents in the audience serve as judges, they learn more about the rules and subtleties of sparring. By simulating an actual tournament setting, our students and coaches are hopefully preparing better for actual competitions.
- The price is very reasonable
- Setup isn’t trivial, but it’s not difficult either
- The system works well
- It helps energize our sparring classes
Here are the negatives:
- The Display app has been buggy for us. It doesn’t always stay synchronized with the Server. You’re probably better off just hooking-up an external monitor to your Server, and turning that to face the audience.
- Our initial setup took about half-an-hour longer than it should have, because we didn’t know to tie each iOS device to its own Apple ID and email address. It’s a minor annoyance to have to create throw-away Apple IDs for this process, but it’s not horrible.
- The system feels a bit sluggish. Admittedly, we’re running on old hardware using a WiFi network, whereas the more expensive KP&P or TrueScore tournament-quality scoring systems would be running on dedicated hardware with specialized radios – just be prepare to feel a bit of “sluggishness” between when judges award a point, and when the point appears on the screen.
- There’s no setting for changing the point system. For instance, the software awards 2 points for a technical (turning) kick to the hogu, and there’s no way to change that to 3 points.
The publish reiterates on the product’s website that this is not a tournament-quality scoring system. They’re right. Maybe if you had a tiny tournament among neighborhood schools you could get away with using a system this inexpensive and simple, but for anything bigger you’d want to use a real tournament-quality system like KP&P or TrueScore.
With all that having been said...a sparring scoring system for less than $100 per ring, as long as you can scrounge some old hardware to run the system on? Easy setup, that literally takes just seconds in-class? For us, this was an easy decision: at this price, with these features, this is a great product.