Fitness and sleep-tracking smart-ring-maker Motiv has been acquired by Proxy, a company specializing in digital-identity security. The companies announced the purchase in accompanying blog posts, and did not share the terms of the deal.
Proxy CEO Denis Mars wrote that his company has hired "a majority" of Motiv's employees, and will be shifting the focus of Motiv's consumer platform away from health tracking and toward biometric authentication for the home and enterprise.
"Wearables are where mobile phones were in in the 90s, the flip phone days. For the most part, they have been relegated to fitness and sleep tracking, when we see more profound purposes possible," he wrote in the blog post. "With this acquisition, Proxy plans to bring digital-identity signals to smart rings for the first time and revolutionize the way people use technology to interact with the world around them. We believe it’s possible to ignite a paradigm shift in how people use wearables to interface with the physical world, so they can do and experience things they never have before."
The smart-ring-maker wrote in its announcement that it would continue to support the Motiv App for existing device owners. Health and sleep data collected through the app will remain private to users and "will not be viewed or uploaded into any Proxy service," the company wrote.
However, Motiv said that it has ended new online sales of the smart rings as well as redemption of its sizing sets.
WHY IT MATTERS
From Jawbone, to Pebble, to the countless product lines discontinued by tech giants, the consumer health wearable space is no stranger to shutdowns or strategic pivots. With many of these examples in mind, Motiv's acquisition and strategy shift is far from a worst-case scenario for the pivoting company and (the majority of) its team.
"Motiv saw a clear path forward in the importance of validating one’s identity in both the physical and digital worlds," the company wrote in its announcement. "Keys, access cards, and passwords are rapidly being replaced with a biometric identity which provides greatly improved security and convenience. As part of Proxy, Motiv will have the resources to empower every person with a unique identity signal they own and control."
That's not to say that the company won't reappear within a healthcare context down the road. Many health organizations over the years have been investigating digital biometrics technologies as a means to quickly verify a patient or provider's identity, to allow for quicker data access and a more convenient patient experience.
THE LARGER TREND
The San Francisco company made its first splash in 2017, when it demoed the smart ring at CES. Of note, the company included biometric security features with the second generation of its device in 2018, an addition that likely played a role in its eventual acquisition. Its primary competition in the last couple of years was the Finnish Oura Ring, another consumer fitness-tracking device, which landed $28 million in new funding just last month.
But when it comes to consumer wearable deals, last year's news of Fitbit's acquisition by Google is the clear highlight. Unlike Motiv, however, the companies have made it clear that their $2.1 billion deal will still have the company developing and selling new devices alongside its other service-based offerings.