Student wins $10K to develop wearable tech | FIU News

Health and fitness buff Lara Garcia was left frustrated as she trained for her first half-marathon in Yosemite.

“On top of spending months working on my physical endurance, I had to ensure my form was correct and my technique was on point to avoid any injuries,” says the computer engineering student, who is also a member of the Honors College. “It was during this grueling experience that I realized there had to be a better and more effective way to train.”

It is often said that necessity is the mother of invention, and Garcia’s months of physical training gave birth to the idea for DashOne, a wearable device that that provides real-time feedback on a runner’s form and technique.

Garcia credits her time spent at StartUP FIU, the university’s dedicated innovation hub, with instilling a foundational knowledge of what entrepreneurship is all about. That consquently inspired her as she mulled her senior class project, a requirement for all College of Engineering seniors.

“Determined, creative and tech-savvy, Lara is emblematic of the future-ready student StartUP FIU produces,” says Emily Gresham, assistant vice president of research, innovation and economic development and a co-Founder of StartUP FIU. “Our experiential programming, dynamic learning communities and dedicated mentorship prepares students for success after graduation, and arms them with the self-confidence, skills and knowledge to help them excel.”

Wanting to translate the challenges she faced during her marathon training into a creative solution, Garcia doubled-down on her idea for wearable tech and began conducting market research to learn more about her target audience’s needs.

“Our goal is to reach competitive runners looking for real-time feedback on their stride, technique and form,” says Garcia, who has partnered with her friend Juan Fortich, who attends FAU, to build DashOne.

The pair’s prototype device has two components: a wearable sensor that can attach to different parts of the body, such as the torso, knees or ankles, and a mobile app that tracks and analyzes a workout in real time.

“Most injuries happen due to poor form and running posture,” explains Garcia. “While other devices focus on output and biometrics, such as a person’s stride or pressure when hitting the pavement, DashOne homes in on a runner’s form, which is critical to achieving peak performance.”

Garcia and Fortich started to develop the prototype in January 2023 and soon after won first place – and a $10,000 prize – at FAU’s business pitch competition. Additionally, they have raised $5,000 by participating in the Blackstone Launchpad Fellowship, hosted by FIU’s Pino Entrepreneurship Center. 

The dynamic duo also competed in the semifinals of Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs, one of the largest collegiate entrepreneurship competitions in the nation.

Garcia plans to continue perfecting the prototype so DashOne can start raise enough capital to bring her unique device to market. And, she adds, she owes the prospect all to FIU.

“DashOne has allowed me to step into rooms that I never expected to be in, connect with and inspire other students to pursue their own passions through entrepreneurship, and make the most out of FIU’s diverse resources and network before graduation,” Garcia says. “For that, I’m incredibly grateful.”

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