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Innovations in sports extend beyond playing surfaces

Updated January 9, 2020 - 7:36 pm

Former St. John’s guard Jonathan Scheiman didn’t fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA. But he’s still in close proximity to his favorite sport, thanks in part to his entrepreneurial vision.

Thanks in part to sports technology.

Scheiman is a molecular biologist who co-founded FitBiomics, a biotechnical company that analyzes the performance and recovery of elite athletes. The New York native spoke on a panel Thursday at CES 2020 about the intersection of sports, technology and how everyday consumers can benefit from modern innovations.

“I’m trying to find a way to bridge my background in athletics and science together,” said Scheiman, who is developing a commercial probiotic. “And then from that science, really use that to develop next generation products not just for athletes but for the masses as well.”

Panelists and entrepreneurs from a wide range of fields shared their thoughts and ideas at a CES session called “The Next Generation of Sports Tech is Here.”


Scheiman and his team at FitBimoics studied the stool of elite marathoners and Olympic rowers and discovered a bacteria that eats lactic acid, the compound that builds during exercise and causes fatigue and soreness. His team at FitBiomics is focusing on turning the findings of his research into a lactate-eating probiotic.

Not just for elite athletes but for the public as well.

“What’s really exciting is we’re able to take this almost personalized customization trend and … look at folks that are really healthy and bring really unique products to market,” said Carolina Barsa, the company’s co-founder and chief growth and innovation officer.

Player safety

Former professional football player Tyrre Burks suffered several injuries during his career. He’s doing his best to ensure that young athletes are as safe as possible.

Burks founded Player’s Heath, a health management platform and application that documents injuries for athletes participating in youth sports and identifies prospective risks. Youth organizations can buy the software, chart injuries and use data to identify trends and provide a safer experience for participants and their parents.

“I started looking at ways I can make an impact in sports,” said Burks, who played for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League. “What we focus on is creating the safest environment possible for an athlete to play sports.”


Professional gamers have plenty of money and glory to play for. Patrick Lu is ensuring everyday gamers do, too.

Lu founded Playfull, a gaming platform in which players can play games like League of Legends and earn prizes such as food, clothing and digital subscriptions. Lu said he created the company out of a realization that video games “kind of waste your time” and sought to incentivize dedication and improvement.

“You learn strategy, resources management. You make friends playing games,” Lu said. “We want to align that value with your real life. We give you rewards for doing something you love.”


Armored Things CEO and co-founder Julie Johnson’s business is “trying to revolutionize the world of security of large venues” by using data to maximize safety at places such as schools and stadiums.

The software charts and tracks data in real time to minimize security risks and help customers allocate the proper resources to particular parts of their venues.

“These are places where thousands upon thousands of people gather,” Johnson said. “Security is something that people don’t love talking about. But it’s really the lifeblood of the sport.”

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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