How LAFC Is Using AI To Prevent Players From Getting Injured

Samson Amore

Samson Amore is a reporter for dot.LA. He holds a degree in journalism from Emerson College. Send tips or pitches to samsonamore@dot.la and find him on Twitter @Samsonamore.

How LAFC Is Using AI To Prevent Players From Getting Injured
LAFC

Last November in an interview with broadcaster Piers Morgan, worldwide soccer superstar Christiano Ronaldo revealed that the reason he was leaving Manchester United only a year after his return to the club was at least in part due to the team’s lack of “technology, especially in terms of training, nutrition and condition.”

There certainly were other factors motivating Ronaldo to leave Man U – but overall, he spoke to a larger issue that soccer as a whole is facing: adopting technology to help its players compete at the highest level of the sport.


The MLS championship-winning team Los Angeles Football Club isn’t one to be left behind, though. LAFC recently welcomed a new teammate – an artificial intelligence that’s tasked with making sure its human counterparts are in top shape as they begin their new season next month.

Created by Seattle-based genetic testing startup 3x4 Genetics, the product is called Genefit and it claims to be the “world’s first” software built for large-scale use of reviewing physiological data and genetics to predict injuries. Though 3x4 Genetics has been around since 2018, its Genefit division, which hopes to help advise coaches and players on training and recovery, launched in May 2021.

How does it work? The process begins with players giving a cheek swab to Genefit, which sends it to a lab for analysis—a process that currently takes several weeks . The players then receive a private copy of their genetic profile and then can meet with Genefit’s team of doctors who analyze and explain the results.

LAFC’s head of performance Gavin Benjafield said that initially, he was skeptical of the technology, but soon found it a useful addition to the club’s existing suite of medical devices. “We link out some of our wearables with their platform, and [Genefit is] taking our training load numbers, our sleep numbers, and combining that with [their] genetic profiling,” Benjafield said.

The soccer club began a test run with nine players nearly a year ago. But LAFC has since added all but one person who didn’t feel comfortable sharing their genetic data to Genefit’s platform.

“We were pleasantly surprised that a lot of [Genefit’s] information lined up with information we have grown to collect [on our players] over time,” Benjafield said, noting however, that he couldn’t share specifics.

The tech comes at a time when soccer is quickly embracing new technologies; the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup saw the introduction of new player motion-tracking systems and the 2022 World Cup introduced motion sensors in “living” footballs from Adidas to aid refs with offsides calls.

Benjafield said LAFC put Genefit through a rigorous approval process before deciding to partner with the genetic testing startup. Genefit was vetted by LAFC’s legal team and the Players Union, who stipulated that the club had to agree it wouldn’t use genetic data to make contract decisions.

According to Benjafield, player data isn’t stored on LAFC servers and players receive a physical and digital copy of their reports that’s “triple-encrypted” and stored across multiple countries, said Genefit CEO Tony Hsu. “I don’t have access to those reports, and they are only between the clinician and the player,” Hsu added. To his point, players choose which members of their coaching staff can see their genetic reports.

In addition to working directly with pro sports outfits, the company also offers direct-to-consumer genetic testing. Hsu told dot.LA the company’s core business is actually pairing a licensed practitioner with a patient to go over their genetic report once the company receives a sample.

For LAFC players, the genetic data also can be linked with information from the suite of wearables that the team already uses. Two examples of this are heart rate monitor belts by Firstbeat or sleep monitoring rings by Finnish company Oura, Benjafield said.

Hsu called Genefit “the world's first genetically based platform that incorporates personalized genetics with any wearable data.” And though right now LAFC is the only MLS soccer club using Genefit, judging by Ronaldo’s comments, it’s clear that the pros are eager to see their clubs invest in more technology that aids their performance and recovery.

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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
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In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

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Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

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Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

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Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

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Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

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Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

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A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
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Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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