Following widespread skepticism, passive nutrition tracker startup Airo refunds early backers

By: Brian Dolan | Nov 22, 2013        

Tags: | | | | | |  |

AIROWaterloo, Ontario-based Airo Health, a small startup that began taking preorders for a passive nutrition-tracking, wristworn device three weeks ago, has informed its early backers by way of email that it has refunded their money and will not put the device back up for sale until it has been tested and validated further. The Airo device, which the company claimed could — among other things — passively track nutrition, including calories, carbs, protein, and fat, was set to be launched in about a year’s time.

MobiHealthNews noted that many of our readers expressed disbelief that Airo’s prototype device could accurately use a wristworn optical sensor to detect signatures of metabolites in the wearer’s bloodstream to infer their nutrition habits.

Airo told its supporters that the company received “immediate feedback from the market that we lacked the proof that a product like Airo will work as advertised” and that “we have come to realize that it requires further testing and calibration through more extensive trials before it will be ready for general market availability.”

“The additional validation required will take us some time and, unfortunately, we no longer expect to be able to ship the first Airo wristbands by fall 2014 as initially indicated,” the company wrote this week in the email, which Airo Health CEO Abhilash Jayakumar sent to MobiHealthNews. “As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel pre-orders and provide you with a full refund.”

Airo Tweet

Despite the decision to refund its early backers, Airo still plans to push ahead: “The Airo team remains fully committed to making Airo the best health monitoring wristband on the market. If you are still interested in the opportunity to be one of the first to receive one, and would like to receive updates about the progress we are making, please reply and let us know.”

The full email that the Airo team sent those who preordered the device is copied below: 

Hi,

We’d like to thank you for being one of the earliest backers of the AIRO wristband. Your support means a lot to us right now.

Early into AIRO’s pre-order campaign, which you were a part of, we received immediate feedback from the market that we lacked the proof that a product like AIRO will work as advertised. Our early testing of AIRO shows tremendous promise, but through conversations with others in the industry, we have come to realize that it requires further testing and calibration through more extensive trials before it will be ready for general market availability. The additional validation required will take us some time and, unfortunately, we no longer expect to be able to ship the first AIRO wristbands by Fall 2014 as initially indicated. As a result, we have made the difficult decision to cancel pre-orders and provide you with a full refund.

Despite this setback, the AIRO team remains fully committed to making AIRO the best health monitoring wristband on the market. If you are still interested in the opportunity to be one of the first to receive one, and would like to receive updates about the progress we are making, please reply and let us know.

We thank you sincerely for your early support. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Yours in health,

Abhilash Jayakumar
Naman Kumar
Emmanuel DeVries

  • everydayfella

    It’s refreshing to see a refund in place for folks who were bamboozled!
    The high-level concept of a noninvasive calorie intake monitor is a noble one, but unfortunately, there is no technology that has ever been conceived (let alone demonstrated) with the capacity to measure/estimate caloric intake accurately enough to have a demonstrable impact on energy balance.
    Hell, even food diaries are not good enough!
    But there are opportunities to give people a general understanding of their eating habits. And perhaps these Airo folks can work some magic in that direction over time.

  • http://www.theroadtosiliconvalley.com/ Ernest Semerda

    If the team can make this work as marketed then I’m sure this will be a game changer! Something I will definitely purchase.

  • Peyton

    Yeah. Too bad there’s no way they will be able to make it work.

  • Peyton

    Sad how many entrepreneurs these days make outlandish claims that they can’t back up, but people are convinced and open up their wallets anyway.

  • Naveen Singh

    Stay healthy with a nutrition tracker
    To live a healthy lifestyle use an app such as Careot to help you not only track the calories but aso detailed nutritional information. For those suffering from diabetes and other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure it is important to track nutrition, such as carbohydrates and sodium in addition to the calories consumed.

    Careot is a unique nutrition tracker
    If you need to also track the nutrition content of the food you eat try using Careot, a unique nutrition tracker that offers numerous features to help you eat right and stay healthy.

    http://www.careot.net/blog/category/nutrition-tracker/

  • Wang Lee

    These three guys from the University of Waterloo have a long history…Here is the story: Over three years back they tried to make a head-band for cyclists and started a company with the name Feedband at local a accelerator.
    After a year they were not successful, so ripped some more money from the university, after burying the old company and starting a new one with the name: BlackTree Fitness.
    Another year passed and they needed more money, so did another successful rip-off attempt. Got rid of that company and started yet another naming it Airo Health.
    More time passed and the university had already lost $85,000. They needed further money so the only way was to snatch some wallets by showing PR efficiency and making fake movie of a non existing product, which created the impact we can read through many blogs and articles.
    Regarding, returning money to the people, I find it hard to believe that anyone paid them even a penny, because in the Waterloo region the guys are ‘well reputed’ now.
    Hopefully, they will start yet another company, named ‘Champions of the Universe’ and their product may be ‘The Aladin’s Lamp’ :-)