With Shine, Misfit Says It Has Made a Wearable You’ll Actually Want to Wear
This week, a small, round, metal device will go on sale in the Apple Store. It has little lights on it. You snap it into a wristband or necklace, or on your shoe or belt. When you tap it, some of the lights will glow, relaying information to you.
In a previous generation of tech, this token-like gadget, called the Shine, might go unnoticed on store shelves. It might be brushed off as jewelry, which, actually, is what it’s supposed to look like.
But in the age of the “quantified self,” we wear our tech and crunch our own personalized versions of big data. Instead of just using technology for productivity or for communication, we are gazing ever more deeply at our our own navels and analyzing the heck out of how active they’ve been today.
The Misfit Shine joins at least three other wearable products on Apple Store shelves, including the Jawbone Up, the Nike+ FuelBand and various versions of the Fitbit. Like the Fitbit Flex, the Shine will retail for $100.
In many ways, the Shine works much the same way the others do: It has a tri-axis accelerometer. It records your activity data throughout the day and syncs wirelessly to an app on the iPhone. The app tells you to place the body of the Shine against your iPhone screen to sync the data. This borders on hokey; in my limited experience with the Shine, a tap on the phone’s screen will perform the same function.
But the Shine, in addition to boasting a prominent co-founder (former Apple CEO John Sculley), a successful crowdfunding campaign and more than $8 million raised from Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and Vinod Khosla’s Khosla Ventures, has a few features that might catch consumers’ eyes, or necks, or wrists.
First, its design: The Shine device is all metal, made of a matte-aluminum material that’s both elegant and utilitarian. When worn on the wrist, it looks like a watch. On the neck, it hangs like a pendant.
“Our main goal is wearability,” co-founder Sonny Vu said in an interview earlier this year with AllThingsD. “We have to make wearable technology wearable. Right now, it’s a lot of plastic out there. For our first product, we decided to go with ‘beautiful.’ We basically said, ‘No plastic.’”
The Shine has an interesting way of telling time. Tap it — sometimes, it’s more of a wrist slap — and the time will appear via its circular aura of LED lights.
And, unlike other rechargeable wearables, its coin battery is said to last three or four months. The Shine can also be worn while swimming.
In the nascent field of wearable tech, there are plenty of areas with room for improvement. Many question the precision and accuracy of the gadgets we wear on our bodies. Others are looking forward to next-level data analysis on the software side: What do my sleep patterns tell me about how many steps I’m likely to take today? Why does my mood dip in the afternoon? Am I getting sick? Will I get pregnant?
“Obviously, I’m biased because I think no user experience is complete without great software,” Vu has said. “But one of the greatest shortcomings right now with wearable tech is people don’t wear it. They lose it. It’s broken. They washed it. The clip didn’t work. It gives their wrist a rash … If you don’t wear the product in the first place, there is no data start.”