Serious back injury propels Mariano Ruiz to develop FitCube

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of articles spotlighting participants in the recent “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” coordinated by the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center for The Development Corporation of Knox County. The competition was won by Erica Grant with Quantum Lock, and you can read our previous article about her initiative here.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

“I want to help people, so they don’t get hurt like I did,” Mariano Ruiz says of the start-up that he pitched during the recent “What’s the Big Idea 48-Hour Launch” competition.

The native of Mexico and U.S. Marine Corps veteran moved to Knoxville 13 years ago. Ruiz encountered a serious back injury while doing squats.

“I’m still not back to where I was before the accident,” he told us during a recent interview. Knowing well the reality of the long-term effects of workout injuries, Ruiz is committed to helping others avoid a similar fate.

Over the past four years, he has developed seven prototypes of the device he has named and trademarked as the FitCubeTM.

“It is a small, rechargeable fitness gadget measuring one-inch high and one and a half inches wide,” Ruiz says. Magnets attach the device to the barbell an individual is lifting. As noted on the start-up’s webpage, FitCubeTM “collects real-time acceleration, tilt, yawn, and pitch on every individual rep during your workout, and via Bluetooth reports real-time results directly to your smartphone or computer.”

How does that help a person lifting weights?

“The FitCubeTM tells you if your posture is incorrect,” Ruiz explains. “If your lift is asymmetrical, the body posture is incorrect, muscles grow uneven but, more importantly, joints, muscles and bones are under abnormal stress that can lead to injuries.”

The device can also track acceleration patterns during a lift, something Ruiz says will help athletes look at previous data and fine-tune their workouts. They can analyze the data and become a better lifter, CrossFitter, Football player, and overall athlete. He’s also working on a calorie counter.

How far along is the initiative?

“The device is pretty well-developed,” Ruiz says, adding that he also has a fully-issued patent. He has self-funded development thus far but needs additional investment to take the next steps. Those dollars would be allocated for an injection mold to manufacture the device, the ability to mass produce the boards that are inside the FitCubeTM, and to improve the mobile device’s applications.

“‘What’s the Big Idea’ was the first time I put the idea out there,” Ruiz says. He praised the mentors with whom he worked during the intense weekend and Jonathan Sexton, Chief Operating Officer of the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, the organizing group.

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