Misfit Wearables expects to start online pre-orders next month

By: Neil Versel | Oct 8, 2012        

Tags: | | | | |  |
Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One, wearable devices currently on the market

Fitbit Zip and Fitbit One, wearable devices already commercially available

Misfit Wearables, a startup producer of wearable sensor products for fitness and medical applications, hasn’t said much about what its sensors will look like, but will start online pre-orders next month, its CEO said Friday.

Misfit likely will take preorders on the Kickstarter funding platform, CEO Sonny Vu announced at the University of Southern California’s sixth annual Body Computing Conference in Los Angeles, but the order location may change.

We haven’t seen much about Misfit’s products, though Vu dropped a hint or two on Friday.

In general, according to Vu, a health sensor won’t find a market unless it is comfortable, useful, invisible and “precious.” In other words, it has to make the user feel good about having the device.

“Would you wear a Fitbit if it didn’t make you feel better?” Vu asked about one of the fitness devices that has had some commercial success.  ”I mean, you can sell a $100 pedometer for cash,” a somewhat incredulous and perhaps envious Vu said.

He does not expect to get that kind of revenue from a sensor embedded in a garment. “I mean, we’re competing against $6.99 t-shirts at Walmart,” Vu said.

Battery life needs to be long, too, because people will need to wear the sensors for hours at a time. “When is the last time you recharged your shirt?” Vu asked.

Vu had previously said that advanced wearable technology may have to be less fashionable than current iterations he has called “Wearables 1.0.” But he also has said he would not want to walk around wearing an “Iron Man”-like suit or looking like a character from “Tron,” a point he reiterated Friday. “I don’t want to be Iron Man. I want to be Invisible Man,” Vu said.

However, successful, lasting products also have to, like a fine timepiece, have timeless value, according to Vu. He said his sister still uses the iPod he gave her eight years ago – and Apple has a special place in Vu’s heart. Vu and Sridhar Iyengar, who co-founded Agamatrix, maker of the iBGStar glucose meter, the first medical iPhone peripheral device, started Misfit Wearables with the backing of former Apple CEO John Sculley.

The company actually came up with the Misfit name one year ago Friday, which happened to be the day Steve Jobs died. Vu said the news got him thinking of the famous Jobs quote from a 1997 Apple commercial narrated by Richard Dreyfuss, “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently.”