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WHS Junior Develops App for Touch Football


Malik and his app.

When he’s not kicking a soccer ball, he’s kicking around code to develop a software application.

For the last three months, Wylie High School junior Malik Savage has developed a graphical user interface to enhance the interactive sport of two-hand touch football.

The interactive football technology uses conductive thread wrapped around the football with active electronics in the jersey and glove. This thread communicates with the WAAVS unit to catalog the actions of players. The WAAVS unit is a device that plugs into the PC or laptop, reads the code, translates it to serial data, which is then output into a meaningful graphical user interface.

Pictures of football.

“It sends that data back to a WAAVS unit,” Savage said. “I developed the part where you plug your computer into the WAAVS unit where it decodes serial data and displays it into a graphical user interface that makes it easy to see what happens in the game.” 

For example, when a player gets a “touchstop” (tackle), the app displays that player’s photo and notes the play that was just made. 

Meant for younger players to limit contact, and therefore, decrease injuries, two-hand touch football is often played by children not allowed to tackle. 

“The Graphical User Interface (GUI) Savage developed allows coaches to track touches, tackles and other stats in real-time, to help make football safer for players,” Michelle Bellamy, Savage’s computer maintenance teacher, said.

Malik poses with teacher.

Another benefit of the application is that it helps the user completely understand what has happened in the game by simplifying it on a screen. 

The coach uploads the team logo, players' names, images, and other information into a website, which automatically populates into the app. 

“Everything being done in the game is shown in the app I created,” Savage said. “It brings a different perspective to the game. It’s pretty cool to see, but it’s also scary because you know what you put into it, and if there’s a bug or if it messes up, it’s my fault.”

Malik poses with PC.

The app is ideal for parents or anyone watching the game to see player profiles, statistics and more. 

“Technically, you could watch the game from across the country,” Savage said, “kind of like a stream, but with data and photos to go along with any video.”

Kevin Thompson, the owner of the startup company Interactive Sports, originally reached out to Savage’s father, Lawrence Savage, to develop the app. Due to his busy schedule, he brought Malik on board to help him with the app.

“My dad and I both played around in Python, the language it was coded in, with a couple of different packages,” Savage said. “He got busy with his other projects, so he gave it to me because I could do a better job since I know more Python.” 

With the introduction of features such as sound signals for play endings, the interactive football equipment is crafted to make youth football not only safer but also more enjoyable. 

“Malik added an ingenious GUI to enhance the experience,” Thompson said. “Malik's clever design using the GUI has significantly improved our technology. His exceptional problem-solving skills and meticulous work make us excited about his current and future contributions not just with Interactive Football but also to society.”

Though the app is not finished, and improvements are ongoing, Malik hopes to eventually get the app out to more people and teams.

“We want to roll out and expand to different places and different leagues,” Savage said. “We are expanding on the graphic interface so that it can handle more people and more teams.”

Bellamy has taught Malik for two years.

“Malik listens intently,” Bellamy said. “He is very deliberate in his actions and very determined. He doesn't give up easily. That determination is what's going to take him far.” 

Savage hopes to follow in his parents' footsteps and become an electrical engineer in the aerospace field.

To see the interactive football equipment in use click here.