Software startup Ultiapps.com released its first app to both the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store on Monday. The application aims to improve upon the current buffet of ultimate stat tracking apps available for mobile devices.
As it stands, the app presents a spartan user interface consisting of only a few necessary buttons, a blank field with end zones, brick marks and sidelines. It allows the creation of teams, rosters, specified wind direction and field orientation relative to the user’s position on the sidelines.
After initiating play, a user can tap the screen of their device (currently iPhone, iPad and Android) to mark an event on the field. The event can be edited to record a completion, turnover, block, assist, score and player information. The app draws connecting arrows from each user generated event, effectively mapping the play as it occurs in real time. It also generates heat maps by measuring throws that happen within one yard of each other and outputting an image like the one below. All that in theory.
In reality the app is very much still a work in progress. The user interface is clumsy and lags significantly compared to the experience of polished apps that smartphone and tablet users are typically accustomed to.
The app — developed by Ottawa Phoenix member Mathew Berg — caught the eye of self described Canadian technophile, Tushar Singh, who saw an opportunity in an emerging market and sport.
In addition to being deeply involved in the Canadian ultimate scene for the past 12 years, Singh has worked in the Waterloo, Ontario area as a chief technology officer for security, e-education and gaming companies. He currently works for education service ClevrU.
Singh and Waterloo’s involvement have potential implications for Ultiapps and the sport. The city of Waterloo (home to the headquarters of struggling tech giant Research in Motion) is part of Canada’s Technology Triangle — Ontario’s Silicon Valley.
Since returning from the windy national club tournament, where the app was taken for proof of concept testing, Berg has been coding to implement suggestions he received from coaches and captains who got to see the software in action.
“People seemed excited about the app,” said Berg. Most of the feedback Berg received is conceptually feasible but requires time, he said.
“The goal is to have stat tracking like the NBA,” said Berg referring to field goal charts used during in-game analyses.
The NBA has Kilimanjaro sized financial backing compared to USA Ultimate, but the youth of the sport is not deterring Berg or Singh, who are realistic about cost, but still have imaging systems on their radar that would improve their current error prone interface.
Currently the app is only as accurate as the user is diligent, Berg said.
Berg also hopes to add the ability to upload information to stat tracking web service Leaguevine.com, a feature already included in competitor software iUltimate.
Apps like iUltimate and QuickStats Ultimate do well tracking individual player statistics but include no location functionality, a feature that both Berg and Singh agree position Ultiapps favorably against their competition for its appeal to coaches and team leaders.
One way the app could help grow the sport is by providing the ability to effectively evaluate players during tryout periods, Singh said, noting that the location functionality in Ultiapps provides an edge over competition especially in this particular application.
While the heat maps generated look more like a visualization from a Windows XP media player than a coaching tool, Berg believes they can be of use to a team.
“Over the course of many games patterns will emerge of areas on the field that a team under-utilizes and then they can make adjustments to fix that,” said Berg in an email.
The app itself is free, although plans for a value added revenue model are in the works, said Singh.
“This is the first app,” Singh said. “[We’re] still in the planning stages, but think of us as a platform. We want to have apps that rely upon data from [the] initial app to bring more specific results.”
So far, players and coaches who have seen what the app produces via the Ultiapps Facebook page are at once excited for the possibilities but remain skeptical of the actual practical application, features and overall user experience. Version 1.1 is slated to come out in the near future.