In the new world of watches, the kind billed as “wearables” and pair with your phone, not the kind that tell the time, fitness tracking plays an important role. For many of these watches the product philosophy seems to be that if the fitness is but one functionality of the device. That has produced a group of watches so bulky that I doubt anyone would wear them to a workout. Sure, they’re great at counting steps as you walk around your daily routine, but would you take them to your spin-cycle class? Your cross-fit workout? Your yoga practice? I tried working out with the Moto 360 (a gorgeous device I’m proud to wear anywhere else) and took it off before I even completed my warm-up.
Which is why I really like Misfit’s idea to pare down fitness trackers to the bare minimum. They’ve identified that users want their device to track their activity with a variety of different sensors but don’t need to look at that data on the device itself. They’ve also identified that the only metric that users want to see on their device is that they have reached their daily goal. This insight prompted Misfit to create two very simple devices that have only those functions. Both the Shine and the recently announced Flash are very small, sleek devices that will track walking, running, cycling, other land sports, swimming (yes, they’re waterproof) and sleeping.
It’s the sleeping functionality that I’d like to try. It was not that long ago that I spent almost $200 on a dedicated sleeping watch that had to be connected via a proprietary cable to my computer to transfer its data. The watch could only store one night’s of data so if I hadn’t connected it to the computer during the day, it would erase that data the following night. Now, Misfit offers sleep tracking as one of many tracking functions, and in a device slimmer and smaller than my watch. I would like to see it Misfit analyze that sleep data in real time (on my smartphone) and be able to wake me up during a light sleep cycle like their Beddit product claims to do. The specs online currently say that sleep patterns are only tracked, not acted on.
The Misfit’s best feature? In a brilliant move, Misfit realized that “poor battery life the nemesis of all first-generation smart watches,” so their devices don’t need to be charged. By operating on a coin battery that can power the device for 6 (six!!) months, the Misfit blows the competition out of the, well, running. After all, the Moto 360 can’t even last a workday without a charge. Then again, the Moto 360 and its pals (yes, the Apple Watch, too) are not small enough to sleep with anyway so you might as well charge them when you asleep.
Misfit has created an entirely new category of wearables by paring down functionality to the essential minimum. They’ve also made fitness trackers very affordable. The Shine sells for $100 and the Flash will sell for only $50. I can’t wait to try one.