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How a sleek, quarter-sized activity tracker hit its $100,000 crowdfunding goal in under a day

December 6, 2012 5:14 pm by | 0 Comments

Does the world really need another fitness tracker? We already have the BodyMedia FIT, FitBit, Striiv, and the list goes on.

But what if it’s waterproof, made of aluminum, about the size of a quarter and can register bicycle pedaling and swimming stokes? Misfit Wearables is hoping the bold design and simplicity of its recently unveiled Misfit Shine tracker will be a hit with health-conscious consumers.

The device is still four months away from a full commercial launch, but people are already getting excited about it, thanks to the company’s crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. “Our goal was to hit $100,000 across the campaign — we hit that in 10 hours,” said Hadi El Heneidi, the Misfit team member who’s heading up marketing and sales efforts for Shine.

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With three weeks left to go, the company is less than $50,000 away from its stretch goal of $500,000. More than 5,000 people have contributed and will receive the devices in March.

So, what’s so great about Shine? El Heneidi said the inspiration for the device was likely an extension of the key ideas behind Misfit co-founders Sonny Vu and Sridhar Iyengar’s previous venture, AgaMatrix. They created the first U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved medical device add-on for the iPhone, a blood glucose meter and app that’s now marketed by Sanofi-Aventis.

Users love that product, El Heneidi said, because it fits seamlessly into their lives. So the idea that a tracking device should fit seamlessly into a person’s life, being as desirable as it is easy to wear, laid the foundation for Shine. “We’re trying to figure out how to make products that are well designed for both males and females, that people would wear even if they didn’t do anything,” he said.

Former PepsiCo and Apple executive John Sculley joined Vu and Iyengar to form Misfit in October 2011. A $7.6 million series A followed in April led by Khosla Ventures and the Founder’s Fund, and the veil was lifted on Misfit Shine last month.

One of the company’s mantras is to be thoughtfully simple, which translated into some bold design decisions — namely the decision to omit a screen or buttons for real-time data display. “In studying the market, we recognized that people are less concerned with the number of steps they’ve taken,” El Heneidi said. “What they really want to know is, have they hit their goal?”

Tiny LED lights in the shape of a ring around the surface of the device are activated with the tap of a finger to show users their progress toward daily goals.  The more lights that shine, the closer users are to their goals. This, of course, means they have to set goals, which they do through a mobile app. An “experimental and simple” iteration of that app is already available for download, El Heneidi said.

He wouldn’t elaborate much on what’s working inside the device, but we know that it measures bipedal motion — walking, biking, jogging — and swimming. Another unique feature is how it connects to the app. “One of the things that we think may be holding back uptake of these activity trackers in more of a broader, mass-market scale is that even with the most basic devices, you have to be somewhat tech-savvy,” he said. To transfer data from the Shine, users simply pull up the app and set the device on their phones.

The team innovating this hardware and software can be described by another one of the company’s favorite words (simple and elegant being the first two): lean. It consists of about a dozen people in the San Francisco office, plus another two dozen design and engineering employees in Ho Chi Minh City. “We may be well-VC backed, but that doesn’t mean we’re not lean,” El Heneidi reiterated.

Misfit’s model and design will officially be put to the test when Shine launches in April. It will come with a clasp that attaches to clothing and will retail for $99. Additional accessories will range from $19 to $40.

Copyright 2014 MedCity News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Deanna Pogorelc

By Deanna Pogorelc MedCity News

Deanna Pogorelc is a Cleveland-based reporter who writes obsessively about life science startups across the country, looking to technology transfer offices, startup incubators and investment funds to see what’s next in healthcare. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Ball State University and previously covered business and education for a northeast Indiana newspaper.
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