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

By Brian Dolan
Share

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