Sensor startup Misfit Wearables is expanding its product line to include clothing, just as we predicted last summer when the company filed for a trademark along those lines. But rather than clothing with built-in sensors, like OMSignal or Heapsylon, Misfit's new socks and t-shirts are branded garments with a specially sized pocket to hold the Misfit Shine, a quarter-sized activity tracker that is the company's flagship product.
"We never really planned on making anything similar to what OMSignal's doing," Misfit Shine CEO Sonny Vu told MobiHealthNews. "For that class of technology, it's still relatively early. I'm not sure it's mature enough to go really mainstream. ... Those are cool products. I just think they need to be at a really affordable price to be mass adopted."
Vu said the new products aren't meant to be a major new part of Misfit's business, but are instead a response to customer feedback, particularly from cyclists, who were looking for a better way to wear the Shine that would accurately track biking and stationary biking.
"Your hands don't move that much when you're on a stationary bike," Vu said. "So none of [the activity trackers], including Shine, do well. So what cyclists and spin class people were doing was sticking it on their shoe or even attaching it to the pedal, because it's magnetic, which we thought was kind of scary. The problem was, at the shoe, Shine might get knocked off if you brush by a bush or something. So we thought, socks are kind of in. And we sat down with our medical lead -- he's an MD PhD in sports medicine and rehabilitation medicine -- and analyzed everywhere you can put it on the foot, and we determined a really great location."
The t-shirts are 100 percent cotton and available in black, white, grey, navy, or teal. They cost $24.99 each or $189.99 for a 10-pack. The socks are cotton-blend sports socks. They come in black and grey and sell for $29.99 for two pairs or $69.99 for 6 pairs. Both the socks and the t-shirts sport the Misfit Wearables logo. The t-shirt has a pouch for the Shine on the side of the arm, while the socks have a pocket inside the top.
Although it launched with a crowdfunding campaign in late 2012, Misfit only began selling devices at the beginning of the fourth quarter in 2013, and Vu said they shipped nearly 200,000 units by the end of that year, with minimal marketing. He also said that more than half of those sales were outside of the United States. The Shine is now sold in 22 countries, and the app and website has been translated into 16 languages.
"Battling it out in the US is tough," Vu said. "You have to do it, it's an important market, and it's a great market to learn from, but the world is big. There's 208 other countries."
Misfit Wearables also made two changes to its team at the beginning of 2014. Sridhar Iyengar, Vu's three-time co-founder, stepped up his role at Misfit and went full-time as chief technology officer. He will also stay on as Chief Scientific Advisor for AgaMatrix. When Vu left AgaMatrix in 2011 to found Misfit, he told MobiHealthNews Iyengar would be coming along.
”We’re always going to work together; we’re like a proton and neutron, we can’t be separated," he said at the time. "Once he’s finished with his responsibilities, he’ll likely come work with me.”
In addition, Christy Le, a longtime Misfit team member, joined the executive team as Chief Financial Officer. She'll be focused on finance, operations, and strategy.