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SXSW 2014: Shine, the activity monitor that brings sexy back

Misift Wearables
Misift Wearables
Misift Wearables

Apple's much talked about iWatch has some competition. In the wearable market, the physical activity monitor Shine, by Misfit Wearables, could be the one to disrupt the industry. The startup recently raised 15 million dollars after Shine's launch. Fitness trackers by Nike, Jawbone etc. and smartwatches by Samsung bet on plastic and functionality. On the contrary, Shine wants to bring sexy back to wearable tech and bets on the elegance of its design.

Examiner.com met with Misfti Wearables CEO, Sonny Vu, during the SXSW interactive 2014 festival at the Indiegogo cafe, where the startup showcased its product. "We have over 40 competitors. but all of them are plastic. The US doesn't care that much but Europeans, especially Germans, Italians and French, want the metal.", he explained. "Europeans are willing to pay for different material." In France, Shine partnered with the luxury retail store Colette and Apple stores, unsurprisingly.

The physical activity monitor Shine looks like a metal medallion, and doesn't need to be worn on the wrist. One can pin it to a jacket or put it in a pocket, even wear it as a bracelet or necklace. "Women have been largely overlooked in the wearable space. My wife is never going to wear anything made of plastic", Sonny Vu added.

Shine, like Fitbit or Jawbone, tracks and measures physical activity, steps, sleep, food intake... via an app available on the Apple store. But its fabrication sets the monitor apart. Bluetooth Low Energy allows the monitor to function for months without needing to recharge its battery. According to Vu, it's the only one to be fully water proof, which makes the object a favorite for swimmers.

The product's success so far seems largely due to Sonny Vu's philosophy: "get people to wear things first and then focus on functionality. People need to have a nice relationship with the product first". The New York Times actually labeled the product "referent standard for wearable design". Shine's approach is quite similar to Apple's, which always put the empasis on design, desire and emotional connection between a person and an object. It seems that the wearable tech space is about to become much more interesting.