Misfit Wearables has unveiled the prototype for its first product, a small and sleek activity tracker called the Misfit Shine that users can clip onto their clothes or wear around their wrists. This elegant and unobtrusive gadget could be a big hit with "quantified selfers," the growing tribe of analytically minded people who are using new gizmos to track their every action and meet their wellness goals.
The San Francisco-based company has launched a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo, hoping to raise $100 000 by mid-December, and promises to ship the product to its early supporters in March. Misfit CEO Sonny Vu says the company has raised plenty of money via venture capital, and sees the Indiegogo campaign primarily as a way to raise the company's profile and generate some buzz. "We need consumer validation more so than the money," he told me in an email. "We wanted to see if people will actually pay for this thing."
The Shine will compete with fitness trackers already on the market, like the clip-on Fitbit and the BodyMedia arm band. (For more on these gadgets, check out the IEEE Spectrum feature story "How I Quantified Myself," in which intrepid reporter Emily Waltz tried out a plethora of gadgets for several months.)
But Vu told me in a phone call that the Shine is distinguished by its simple design and its durability: It's made of "aircraft-grade aluminum" and is waterproof. "It’s a very material-driven project," says Vu. "Other activity trackers, they have decent looking design, but they're made of rubber and plastic. They're not in the same class of product as your Tiffany earrings or your watch."
To make wearable technology that's appealing to mainstream consumers (i.e. not just data geeks), Vu says companies need to prioritize comfort and fashion. "We want to achieve high wearability," he says. "Once we have that, we can insert more functionality. But we don’t compromise on user experience." To keep that user experience simple, Misfit Wearables designed a gadget that never needs to be plugged in. The Shine's battery lasts about six months, says Vu, and it syncs wirelessly with your smartphone, where you can review your stats.
For more details, check out the video below.
Photo and video: Misfit Wearables
Eliza Strickland is a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum, where she covers AI, biomedical engineering, and other topics. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.