Training takes a lot of practice, and in the case of soccer (or football, depending on where you live) there’s an incredible amount of pressure put on players and penalty kicks. A whole match with strategy and skill doesn’t matter once the penalty shoot-out begins.
Having started in its own startup house in Perth before moving the team to Spacecubed’s Riff space in January this year, the Formalytics team has been working since early 2016 to launch the myKicks app to the public – with a team experienced in mobile game development, software engineering and venture capital in Sydney, London and San Francisco.
Formalytics app mixes Augmented Reality with AI
The new iOS app myKicks uses the smartphone’s camera to record a penalty kick, giving users stats about each kick (from the speed and trajectory to the probability of a goal) and displaying those stats on screen – complete with augmented reality effects. Once the kicker says “ready”, the app will countdown and the kick will be recorded.
“After watching England go into disarray in penalty shoot-outs for the best part of two decades I thought to myself, why?” myKicks co-founder and CEO Andrew Hall said of the smartphone app's inception. “So I came up with the idea for a smart app that records your kicks and allows you to take on the best virtual goalies of all time.”
The app only requires users have an iPhone 6s or newer, use a standard size football and goal (or even use a wall if goals aren’t available) to get an accurate reading, meaning investment from the player is minimal.
This kind of analysis would normally only be available to top players, but this allows amateurs and aspiring players to test their kicks with the world champions. Formalytics have collected penalty kick data from 10,000 kicks across major leagues from 2009 onwards as a baseline, with the resulting algorithm helping predict the probability of a penalty kick being turned into a goal.
App gets a boost from World Cup fever
For co-founders Andrew Hall, Holly Ade-Simpson and David Budden, the timing of this release couldn’t have worked out better. Launching on 22 June (right in the middle of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia) the app collected over 120,000 penalty kicks over 8 days since its release, also launching it to the top of iTunes – above the official FIFA World Cup app. As of now, there's almost 200,000 kicks recorded.
“It’s been really exciting to get engagement with some of the largest international brands, football clubs and influencers,” CTO and co-founder Holly Ade-Simpson said. “They’ve been waiting for digital to revolutionise the game, and this is the first time they’ve seen something with real potential to do it on a mass scale, at no to low cost to players.”
Some of the bigger names who’ve used the app sing praise of the concept. “We believe this app has the potential to increase young players engagement with the game,” former Liverpool Football Club player and myKicks Product Manager Tom King said. “They can get constant feedback about their skills, improvements, play against friends, and win challenges.”
“I’ve been filming and analysing my penalties with myKicks over the last year,” World Football Freestyle Champion Andrew Henderson said. “It tells me how likely I am to beat a top professional goalie with every kick I take.”
"After two years of hard work building the core technology that powers myKicks, the entire team is thrilled to see such a positive response from the global football community," Andrew Hall said. "We are now starting to get strong interest from brands, clubs, and investors around the world who are interested in collaborating or supporting the development into other sports. We're looking forward to 'what's next'."
The app is currently free for the duration of the 2018 World Cup and will later move to an in-app purchase model to unlock additional features – such as improved statistics or even masterclasses to improve skills.