"Sports science is now being understood as a differentiator for the athlete's performance": Murugesh Kumar, CEO, Atium Sports 

Murugesh Kumar, CEO, and Neelkanth Rajum, CTO of Atium Sports Source: Sportskeeda
Murugesh Kumar, CEO, and Neelkanth Rajum, CTO of Atium Sports Source: Sportskeeda

Atium Sports is an upcoming athlete high-performance management platform for leveraging the power of data and sports science to help various sporting organizations elevate their athletes' true potential.

The platform enables athletes, coaches, and sports teams to unlock performance through sports science and data analytics. Atium Sports will be looking to help sports organizations, high-performance centers and academies manage their athletes, holistically track and monitor their training programs, and gain intelligent insights to enable high performance and develop elite athletes.

In an exclusive conversation with Sportskeeda.com, Murugesh Kumar, CEO, and Neelkanth Rajum, CTO of Atium Sports elaborated on the founding story of Atium Sports, the importance of sports science, their roadmap, accessibility and awareness of sports wearables, and more.

Excerpts from Sportskeeda's conversation with Atium Sports CEO Murugesh Kumar and CTO Neelkanth Rajum

Q. Can you take us on a brief journey of the founding story of Atium Sports and how it has been since?

Murugesh: We have always been advocates for health and fitness in sports, and that led us to the creation of fitness trackers to solve various health-related issues in the Indian sporting ecosystem.

However, when we interacted with various sporting bodies, we understood that the unavailiblity of fitness trackers was a part of various problems, including the issue of lack of knowledge about sports science, and many of the organizations were struggling to digitize their data as well.

Thus, we went back to conceptualizing an athlete performance management platform, and by January 2020, Atium Sports was founded. In August 2021, they launched their first official product and since then, there have been signs of progress throughout.

Q. What does Atium Sports provide for an athlete to enhance their performance and take it to the next level?

Neelkanth: Atium Sports enables athletes to be in charge of their own data, which has not been the case before in the ecosystem, and has been identified as a major gap. It has always been believed that the data collected belongs to the person who collects the data and not to the athlete. However, the Athlete Management System of Atium Sports helps eradicate this notion and puts the athletes in full control of their own data.

Moreover, this data eases out the process of connecting with key stakeholders associated with the athletes, namely coaches and doctors, and helps them put in place a structure for the athletes effectively. A key feature of the athlete management system created by Atium Sports is the availiblity of all the details in a variety of local languages, which helps athletes enrich their knowledge in their own language.

Q. According to you, how important are sports wearables and fitness trackers in this day and age?

Murugesh: Sports wearables have a been a key conduit for data collection in sports. Heart-rate monitors and GPS trackers have been used by many sporting countries throughout the world. Sports wearables have recently gaged importance and sports science is now being understood as a differentiator for the athlete's performance. The challenge remains in the domain of sports science, where the data reflected in the various devices needs to be interpreted correctly, and Atium Sports has the answers to these kinds of issues.

Q. Given that the margin of error is presumed to be less, what kind of challenges does the organization face in creating and implementing technologies?

Neelkanth: Just like any other technology building company, Atium Sports also faces a lot of standard challenges. But the team is extremely strong on the technological front, and the initial months of building the product were more about the learnings the team achieved in sports science and in building a holistic sports science team as well. Thus, when we started building the product, we always vetted the product with sports science experts on a day-to-day basis to take the margin of error out of the picture.

Coming to the accuracy of the data in the world of sports science, there are very few devices that provide 98 percent accuracy or more, but more importantly, there is a trend analysis done on all the results. So even if there are margins of errors in the individual data results, the trend analysis helps the players and coaches gage an accurate jist of the observations imported from the device.

Q. Could you take us through what specific datapoints the coaches and other users want after using the platform, and how Atium Sports customizes the dashboard for those who want those kinds of changes?

Neelkanth: Atium Sports is always open to customization, and the company avoids any kind of rigidity when it comes to delivering the data. There are various parameters set in the dashboard, and specific tests can be handled through specific parameters, while others can be ignored to achieve accurate results.

Moreover, if organizations want to implement their own tests, Atium Sports understands what kind of tests need to be implemented, then directs the sports science team to do the research for the same. Once the sports science team is ready with their research, it will be included in the dashboard.

Q. Since these kinds of high-end technologies tend to come at a significant cost, can you comment on the affordability of the product offerings?

Murugesh: Sports tracker product development comes at a huge cost, with massive spending required for research and development, along with a lot of marketing and operations costs. However, in Atium's case, we as a company offer software-only products for high-performance solutions and are enabling these solutions at an affordable cost. It is not necessary that high-performance sports science products need to be at a huge cost. Atium's software-only approach is a sign that the majority of fitness trackers can be done without physical devices as well.

Q. Are we moving ahead towards a time where fitness trackers and all kinds of technologies will be mandatorily implemented and be looked at as mainstream requirements?

Neelkanth: There has been a lot of increase in the usage of technology for tracking data in sports in recent years. It has been identified that technology can play a key role in talent scouting and athlete scouting processes, but is not implemented effectively. Once you have the data of every athlete amongst the huge pool of talent on a single platform, it eases out the process substantially

Moreover, it helps key stakeholders in athlete development, like coaches, parents, and institutions to get on the same page. With that being said, technology should be used as a tool and not the driving force of these kinds of processes.

Q. Atium Sports has worked in collaboration with the Haryana Steelers as well as the Sports Authority of India (SAI). Could you take us through how this process works, what kind of mindset they have, and help us understand what their acceptance level is in terms of sports science solutions?

Murugesh: Atium Sports and the Sports Authority of India have collaborated to enhance Indian sporting athletes to the next level by providing accurate solutions on the technological front.

Atium Sports has become a platform where all of SAI's athletes can collaborate and reach certain targets that will help enable their performance holistically. Sports science has been given huge importance by the Sports Authority of India, and Atium Sports are now assisting them on the technological front throughout their centers.

As far as the Haryana Steelers are concerned, Atium Sports is their strategic partner, and the athletes of the Haryana Steelers have started using the Atium platform pre-season itself to assess their physical well-being and injury management. Using the already-established dashboards, coaches and sports science specialists stay updated throughout the season to understand the fitness levels of the athletes.

Q. What kind of roadmap is Atium Sports looking at in the coming years to keep on growing in this industry?

Murugesh: Atium Sports is currently eyeing collaborations with major sporting bodies and has a vision to establish strong partnerships with various governing bodies and organizations throughout the country to help the athletes evolve substantially on the technological front.

Moreover, there are plans to go global; Atium sports is in discussions with customers in the Middle East, France, and South Africa. With that being said, the Atium platform is constantly evolving, and the roadmap consists of various goals like providing a variety of features to the customers, advancing into coaching methodologies, and continuing to provide effective high-performance outputs to our customers.

Q. We know there are a lot of engineers going around in India with an immense passion for the sport. Can they pursue this journey with all the tracking technologies and analytics and make a difference in this industry? What would be your message to these engineers?

Neelkanth: The first step for people who want to get into the world of sports analysis and sports technology is to constantly stay updated about the developments happening in the sporting world and continue to gain knowledge about the same.

It is crucial to keep enhancing their skillsets because if they stick to one skill or specialization, it will go out of the trend very quickly. Thus, it is important to keep adding skills to our armor in order to provide value to the sporting industry. In addition, initiatives must be taken by individuals to make a difference and help grow the sporting industry.

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