By Zack Downing, Staff Writer
As was seen in the successful Small Business Expo in the fall, UMass Dartmouth has countless young entrepreneurs ready to start small businesses and product promotion.
One of the biggest stories of the year is UMass Law student Jorge Franco’s innovation in the athletic field. Over many months, he invented and patented a fitness device designed to assist athletes with their workouts.
It’s called InLine Balance, and it can shape up to make a big splash in the world of weightlifting. The device is a multi-purpose monitor that the user attaches to the center of the barbell. Through a partner app downloaded on a mobile device, the device will send you information about your lifting velocity, acceleration, your stability, your number of reps, and much more.
On the outside of the device is a series of lights that light up in different ways to let the user know how well-balanced she or he is holding the bar, an especially helpful feature in bench-pressing, where it’s easy to let the barbell tip one way or the other. The device lights up green when equally level, but when it starts to tilt, it detects it and lights up yellow and red on the side that’s falling.
It can also beep when you tilt too far, just in case you’re in a position where you cannot watch the bar you’re holding.
“I wanted it to be like a FitBit for weightlifting,” says Franco. “Runners get statistical analysis about their speed and steps and whatnot, and InLine Balance works that way with lifting.”
“I got the idea back when I used to play football, my father was my trainer in working out, and he would correct my form. I would think my form was correct, and we would disagree and debate on what the form should look like and how I should lift. I wanted there to be a non-subjective way to measure form and balance, and so my father and I worked together on it.”
One of the coolest parts of the development process was when Franco invited Olympic athlete and Jamaican distance running record holder Kemoy Campbell to the UMass D campus to help test the prototype.
“Olympians are realizing that velocity based training is the future,” says Franco. “Now, a single moment of working out won’t be wasted.”
Through data collecting and analysis, the InLine Balance attachment holds promise to be a valuable addition to gyms across the country. Athletes who have tested it on campus, including Campbell, believe it’s an important asset to understanding all about your weightlifting limits and technique. Numbers and speed are an essential guide to knowing what you can lift and how you do it.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on the InLine Balance device, they will soon be on Amazon ready for purchase. Hopefully, we won’t just see Franco’s bright green lights in the Corsair gym, but in Olympic training facilities as well.
If you’ve got an idea of your own, get out there, develop it, patent it, and you too could make an impact as an entrepreneur!