Goals - Bocce Tech Project
unSpecific, imMeasurable, unAchievable, irRelevant, nonTime-bound goals
Welcome to the 4 new subscribers.
Last week, I presented a non-bocce project that has occupied the free time I usually spend on bocce tech tinkering:
Quick update on that project known as “🪶 Feather.”
Josh ran through user testing with 15 people in a week. We either encouraged them to sign up for the Free tier or gave them a one-time use virtual credit card for the Paid tier so they didn’t need to burn their own cash.
User testing feedback was positive. We came up with a bunch of to-dos before we send a launch announcement to the 2,500 emails we collected during the December Hackathon and onward.
We shut down the beta test page and posted a note there which directs someone to our new Feather website. Even without an announcement we already have 91 users (about 8 of which are Josh/me and about 15 of which are the test users that gave us feedback).
We have 1 paying user already. Not bad.
So about a 1/68 = 1.47% conversion rate. It will be interesting to see how many of the 2,500 people that found us via the hackathon or twitter convert. If we can convert 1.47% of those folks into paying users, that’ll almost cover monthly operating expenses.
But you’re here for bocce brainstorming. This week I’ve decided to write about my goals for the project. I’ll revisit this list 10-12 months from now.
Bocce Tech Project Goals
I’m not much of a believer in SMART goals for this project. That’s too corporatey.
Instead, I want to set some unSpecific, imMeasurable, unAchievable, irRelevant, nonTime-bound goals to really stick it to those corporate bros (check out Corporate Bro videos).
My fear is that if I set SMART goals and don’t achieve them that it will just make me disappointed in myself.
I’ll make some of these goals for me and some of the goals for the project.
Here we go!
Goals for Me
I’ll start with a few immeasurable goals for just about any hobby:
Decide what I want out of this hobby
And now I’ll get slightly more specific and relevant:
Brainstorm & Engage with Folks - It is fun to chat about technology and compare the lack of technology in bocce to what other sports like PGA, MLB, NBA, Tennis, NHL, Formula1, and NFL are doing.
Try Not to Spend too Much on this Hobby - I estimate that during my first 1.5 years working on this project that I spent about $12,000. Of that, $7,000 was a one year software license that I chose not to renew. I’ve managed to cut down on my expenses quite a bit by choosing to use 100% open source software and keep the hardware I’ve already got.
Write Consistently - I started writing on this blog in October 2022. For 10 weeks, I wrote weekly and then I took an extended holiday break. I’d like to get back to consistency.
Code Consistently - I get a lot of joy out of solving problems with code and I’d like to be more consistent with coding on these fun projects. Coding is more creative of a task than one might think. You’re constantly creating and solving problems and exercising your brain.
Limit Social Media Spirals - I’ve tried to do Instagram and Twitter for boccelabs, but I don’t think it is a good use of my time. I’ll continue to post, but only when I have a good “Show and Tell” video.
Make Friends in the Bocce Community Beyond Chicago - This year I’m going to the tournament in Vegas and Detroit. I hope to go to the Dallas tournament and at some point I need to see what bocce is like in Ohio. I also want to hop over to Waterside Club in NY soon.
Double My Newsletter Subscribers - I have about 105 newsletter subscribers. If I write consistently, I think I’ll hit 200 by the end of the year. I think this is my one measurable & time-bound goal.
Goals for The Project
Goals for the project are much harder to come up with given that it is a hobby. Let’s define “the project” first. The project is a bit of a moving target. I tend to meander through the following sub projects when I get a burst of creative energy to achieve a milestone.
Camera based scoring & stats
Stats web portal (React Native)
Raspberry Pi cameras & Allied Vision [expensive] cameras
OpenCV/Python based computer vision software development
Halcon [expensive] based computer vision software development
Mobile app for Class Rating System (React Native)
REST API in Google Cloud for scoring system
REST API in Google Cloud for player database
TV digital scoreboard (Python based)
Tidbyt digital scoreboard (Python/Flask based)
…all of these projects have been interrelated. So I’ll refer to them collectively as “The Project.”
Each project has been a small POC (proof of concept) that keeps me engaged for a while until I move on to the next shiny thing. It’s been quite rewarding to just work on whatever I feel like without a demanding boss looking over my shoulder.
I’d say all of the above POCs are partially working.
Do I have a goal of turning these projects into sellable products?
Maybe but likely not.
As stated in a previous article, there are many reasons why bocce technology isn’t super practical. The main reason is that there isn’t a whole lot of money in this sport. We don’t have paid pros, multi-million dollar sponsors, and dedicated TV channels that the likes of mainstream sports do.
So sure, I could spend all my time making a perfected, finished, sellable product. But that seems like a straight path towards business failure.
Instead I’m going to keep this project as a hobby until the time is right.
And I’ve said this before, I’d love it if someone else took on the business risk of creating a polished bocce ball tracking, scoring, stats system.
But seed funding or a grant and hiring a small team could change my thinking.
All that said, I have managed to come up with a few goals for the project:
Show and Tell on this Blog - Share projects, achievements, challenges. I’d like to have a tangible project to present every month or two with a video demo.
Show and Tell in my Living Room - Invite friends over to my home to interact with my bocce scoring system. I think it could spur interesting discussion about the challenge.
Show and Tell at a Bocce Tournament - I’d like to have more eyes on what I’ve built. It isn’t super portable and requires some setup time, but it will be fun to show it off.
Interface with Bocce Broadcast Network (BBN) - Last week I mentioned Waterside Club located in upstate New York. I need to fly over there for their next BBN live-streamed tournament and geek out with Michael (aka Sharkey) about how to connect my system up to their broadcasting software.
Restructure & Document all my Code on Github - All of my code is publicly available here on Github. I want to add some documentation to it so that others can contribute and find the project.
Try to get University Engineering Students Involved in the Computer Vision project - I’d like to have portions of this project turned into senior design capstone projects at universities. I’ve tried this before, but made a really half-ass effort of inviting some students from Harper College Makerspace to collaborate. I need to create some marketing materials and pitch a few universities. I probably have the biggest “in” with NC State U ECE senior design and East Carolina U CET where I used to attend. This would be a good way to both “give back” with mentorship and sponsoring a challenging project and also potentially latch on to some of their budget. I also want to reach out to Syracuse U engineering since they are close to Waterside Club. If anyone around Chicago has connections to Illinois Tech (formerly IIT) or Northwestern U, definitely give me a shout.
Thanks for reading. I’ll see you at bocce this week or in your inbox next week.
~ Digital Dave