Review of Shine – A Beautiful Activity Tracker from Misfit Wearables.

An elegant activity tracker from Misfit Wearables.

TL;DR: This is a stylish toy that gives you a constant reminder to be more active. A couple of things about Shine could be better, but nothing that software updates would not fix. If you want one, get one.

Early in January 2013 Misfit Shine made a lot of noise, when they exceeded the original funding goal by almost 8 times. This elegant, petite and overall original activity tracker seemed really promising. Among its competitors (Nike FuelBand, Fitbit and Jawbone Up), Shine was a marvel, a “precision crafted like jewelry to be worn on any occasion” as they put it.

My wife and I received our Shines in the mail last week and had a few days to spend intimately with the devices, mainly tracking sleep and fitness activity. Let me show you what Shine is like.

Unboxing

In comparison to packaging of the Apple products, where every tiny detail is thought through, or even Amazon packaging, that is just simple and rugged, Shine falls a little bit shorts on both ends. I get an impression they were going for an exquisite feel, but then had to speed up and ended up with a compromise. I would not say this is bad, but having seen beautiful packaging, as a consumer I now come to expect one.

The box contains a Shine, that is snapped together, a couple of batteries, a funky-shaped device that’s meant for opening the shine cover, and a magnetic clip. Judging by the fact that my USPS package came with a tiny screwdriver attached, I suspect that a large numbers of users could not figure out how to prop the Shine open; that’s a pity, since the original tool looks really slick. The process, I suppose, was made even more confusing by a diagram printed on the inner cover of the box.

Getting started was a bit counter-intuitive, but not a big deal, especially for the early adopters.

Industrial Design

Looking at the shine as a gorgeous product of Industrial Design, I really like it. It was the only activity tracker that really appeal to me due to its simplicity and beauty. Being a designer myself, I really admire the precision with which the metal is carved and the addition of LEDs under the metal plate make it all that more beautiful. After wearing Shine around for a few days, I noticed it does attract some attention, especially when I double-tap the device and it lights up with a gorgeous circle of lights.

Accessories

Shine  has four different accessories that you could purchase: a magnetic clasp, a sports band, a necklace and a leather band. As an Indiegogo supporter, I only got to play with the first two and  the clasp was by far my preferred accessory. Unfortunately either due to defect or the nature of the design, the plastic rim was too easy to rip. Luckily, I still have the sports band, and since Shine only relies on a 3-axis accelerometer, I can also just keep it in my pocked and get the same results.

Device Connectivity

Watch the official Shine video and you will see that connecting the device to your iPhone is incredibly easy. All you got to do is to download the app, activate Bluetooth, place the Shine on top of your screen and watch it sync.

If you are using the new iOS7, then an iPad running an older software version will just have to be your backup plan, as Shine does not yet support iOS7.

Shine iOS App

The iOS is decent. Although you may never be able to find the “My Shine” menu option, the screens look pretty and if all you want to do is to track your daily stats, the app works. However, lack of a web interface to interact with my data feels like a turn off. I may be a data nerd, but I would like to see my weekly progress on a big screen.

You can download the app here.

Fitness Tracking

shine activity tracking app

 

Tracking is easy – just start moving and your Shine starts to count the steps. If you want to track sleep, you can set that up in the “My Shine” menu and a tripple-tap will activate the function. The only downside is that you cannot set the device to track multiple activity types on request. It will only track the one activity that’s selected in the settings, and it will track all your motion in general.

After paying a close attention to the Shine stats for a couple of days, I realized that although perhaps not amazing insightful, the data I was getting was actually incredible good at reminding me (and my wife) to be active. I first thought that on-device display, in the form of an LED circle, was useless, but overtime I realized that it was great for actively reminding me of how little exercise I do before lunch.

That said, I am not entirely convinced that Shine is making accurate measurements of my calories. I took the Shine out for a run once, along with my Nike+ watch, and while my watch only recorded about 803 calories burnt after a 50 minute run, my Shine reported a stunning 1,800 calories! Perhaps by using my height/weight data they are able to give more accurate estimates, but having being running for almost ten years now, I am inclined to believe that Shine is wrong.

Shine is a great device for tracking activity, especially for the folks who are not very active. My only concern with Shine’s tracking is that it is quite lenient on the amount of moving that creates a “full circle.” For me personally, when set to default settings, the Shine completed my daily exercise goal within half a day, without any strenuous physical exercise. Knowing myself, and how much food I consume during the day, I know for a fact that I need to get at least double the activity in order not to gain weight, but there is now way for Shine to know that and to adjust its measurements. My worry is that people who otherwise should have exercised more, would find validation in Shine and stop short of their goals. Of course, if you want to exercise more, you can always adjust your goals in the settings.

Overall Impression

This is a beautiful product that deserves a beautiful and functional environment around it, which includes impeccable packaging, good FAQs, accessories that don’t break so easily, and an app that showcases the very best in design and user experience. Misfits are about 80% there, and I wish them luck and tailwind. I am certainly looking forward to the innovations, which will without a doubt follow this release. The Misfits team should have plenty of money left (7.6 million dollars) to keep building great products. I am looking forward to what they produce next!

marc_barrosAbout the Author: Kirill Zubovsky is the founder of Scoutzie.com, a marketplace for great mobile and web design. He is an engineer, designer and also an alumni of YCombinator. 
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  1. stoinov says:

    The packaging I the apple store is different and more beautiful.
    The latest version of the app from couple of days ago supports ios7.
    They mentioned on their site that they account for the normally used calories of your body. So if you check your counter by noon you will have1000 calories just for being alive :)

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