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IIT Madras developing smart training solutions in bid to ‘help India bag at least 25 gold medals in next 10 years’

IIT Madras developing smart training solutions in bid to ‘help India bag at least 25 gold medals in next 10 years’

With an aim to help Indian athletes win more medals, starting with the Paris Olympics 2024, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras is developing tools and software to maximise preparation and training.

From a ‘SmartBoxer’ aimed at providing assessments of the Indian boxers on specific parameters to a wearable sweat monitor, the idea now is to help both players and coaches, and reduce dependence on foreign help.

Officials say that foreign countries are reluctant to share their technology freely, due to which Indian athletes are at a disadvantage, and are forced to travel abroad for training with advanced sports technology.

“A lot of our athletes go abroad to train… they basically rely a lot on foreign technology and coaches both. This is a great drain on the exchequer and does not benefit a broad base of athletes,” Mahesh Panchagnula, the head of Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Sport Sciences and Analytics at IIT Madras, told PTI.

“We cannot solve the coaches’ problem, but we can certainly solve the technology problem,” he said, adding that they are working with the Sports Authority of India (SAI).

“We are working very closely with the Sports Authority of India, as well as various sports federations to make sure what we are developing is really of use to athletes,” he said.

Panchagnula added, “The ultimate goal is to help (India) bag at least 25 gold medals in the next 10 years.”

Additionally, the centre is focusing on creating a sustainable and scalable model for India, by developing indigenous technology to train athletes.

The researchers are designing solutions based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) for sportspersons.

Among the technologies being developed by IIT Madras is a combat sports lab, performance model for archery, low-cost custom imaging, wearable sweat monitor, wearable ultrasound monitor, ball-flight dynamic models, force plates, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and food scanners.

“We have developed a cost-effective boxing analytics platform ‘Smartboxer’ to increase India’s boxing medal tally at the 2024 Olympics,” said Babji Srinivasan, an associate professor at IIT Madras.

“The system involves using IoT-based sensors and video cameras to provide analytics about player performance,” he said.

“It involves sensor embedded gloves to analyse punch force; wireless foot insole with a pressure sensor to record ground reaction force; wireless EMG sensors to record movement in the player’s lower body and inertial measurement unit to record movement in player’s upper body,” Srinivasan explained.

The smart boxer system integrates data from video streams and multiple IoT devices, the professor said.

The information extracted from this ‘multivariate data’ provides fight analytics that can not only help coaches, but also the judges, to quantify the key traits of boxing champions.

“This system will allow us to analyse a boxer’s performance in a way that aids progression. We will be able to highlight to the boxers their strengths as well as areas that require development such as patterns of movement, activity levels, punch and defensive repertoires — both, technically and tactically,” he added.

In the longer run, the CoE also plans to offer a four-year online programme in Sports Science and Analytics in partnership with sports bodies.

“The second motivation is to develop a whole sports science curriculum that will make it attractive for people in India to pursue sports science and sports analytics,” Panchagnula said.

“These two disciplines, we believe, will really become more and more important for the country because there is a growing interest in sports at the grassroots level and developing curriculum, degree and certification programmes around these ideas will really help develop manpower,” Panchagnula said.

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