Misfit CEO: Two new Misfit wearables launching at CES and only one is a tracker

We chat trackers, China and smart homes with Sonny Vu
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Now that Sonny Vu, Misfit's CEO, has built what he thinks is as close to the perfect activity, sleep and lifestyle tracker in the Shine 2, his attentions are moving elsewhere.

"Activity tracking is great but it's very 2013," he said at the Shine 2's UK launch in London. "The era of wearable controls is here. Controls, identity, payments, we're on it. We have a lot of software updates coming in the next six months."

And that's not all. Misfit's prolific run of launching new devices and collaborations looks set to continue in 2016.

"We are launching two new wearables at CES [in January 2016] and only one of them is an activity tracker," he told Wareable. "CES is going to be big for us, we are also announcing a new brand partnership there. But I don't know that we're going to do anything with a display soon. There just isn't a display that is low power enough."

Misfit activity and sleep tracking is also "coming soon" to Android Wear watches, a move which would help Vu's claims in 2014 that Misfit is a platform, not just a devices company.

Getting the details right

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When the Misfit Shine 2 was announced, we described it as a "fine-tuned tracker". And in many ways it is.

According to Vu, people love the Shine's form factor and functionality but the perfectionists in his team wanted to finish the job before moving on to new products.

"We were focused on getting all of the details right that we didn't get right for Shine," he said. "People still buy it, they like the iconic design, but this takes the device to the next level."

The Shine 2 is 10% thinner and adds coloured lights and vibrations for alerts with a motor that's ten times lower power than smart jewellery rivals. Plus it brings Link smart home and selfie controls to a classy-looking wearable as well as Misfit's cheaper buttons. There's a redesigned app and a smart home-friendly 10 - 15m range.

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But Misfit is also getting the basics right. A new capacitive touch sensor means the double tap motion is quicker and more accurate, a niggle Shine users will be familiar with. It has made sure, for instance, that the new Shine doesn't fall out of the bands so easily, a common complaint all over its Amazon reviews and as Vu says, "kind of a basic requirement". A new necklace accessory is also in the pipeline.

Misfit decided to shun San Francisco to launch the Shine 2 at the W Hotel in Beijing in late October, in collaboration with China's answer to both Amazon and Kickstarter, JD.com. It sold just under 250,000 units in pre-orders in the first 24 hours which Vu says is "more than Fitbit and Jawbone combined" for recent launch day sales.

"We've never seen anything like it, there is a lot of momentum in China," said Vu. "Americans are more function over form, broadly speaking, you go to New York it's different. Whereas you have places like Italy and France, if you read our Amazon reviews, people love the design, we are on like 4 ½ stars. They just love the design. In countries that care about quality and design, we do better so in Japan we do really well and we do pretty well in the UK."


Earlier this year, Vu told the press that Misfit was outselling Fitbit in China. The Swarovski Shine collaboration has also been seriously popular in both China and the US even though it is more expensive than most rivals.

"The Americans love it because it feels more elegant, more European and Asians absolutely love it. A company like Polar will buy crystals and glue them on. That's not a Swarovski branded product, they're selling [the Swarovski Shine] in their stores. The crystal quality is great and it sells really well."

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As for whether we will be able to buy the solar powered Swarovski Shine any time soon, this is "going to be up to Swarovski".

Misfit also claims to have translated its app into more languages than any other competitor. Whichever country Vu is selling in, he is betting on the combination of an elegant product, smartwatch-style features and no charging.

"This does everything you would expect a smartwatch to do," he said. "It tells the time as a minimal watch, it handles alerts, it tracks activity and sleep, has a smart alarm. But it's the no charging that wins. It's 30 times longer battery life, even smart jewellery you have to charge it. You don't charge your ring now. Touchscreens have a place but Misfit is 24/7, 365."

How we test


Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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