Misfit Shine: The best fitness tracker

This gadget is outstanding! Great functionality, great design, great price! Now there's no excuse not to "quantify" yourself.

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Credit: DVIDSHUB / Flickr

Want to track your health? You need to get the right gear to do this and a product I’ve been testing, the Misfit Shine, offers an outstanding combination of pricing, functionality, and ease-of-use.

With the explosion of digital health monitoring products, the “quantified self” movement has moved away from its bio-hacker roots into the mainstream and Apple’s recent release of Health with iOS 8 underlined this change. And this brings up to the three issues that have, to date, limited who can use the tech:

The first is cost; until recently monitoring devices were fairly spendy. The second, functionality, is about what data is collected and what you can do with it when you’ve got it. Finally, ease-of-use is about where and when data is collected and how it is transferred from the device. What’s impressed me about the Misfit Shine is that it very successfully addresses all of these issues.

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The Misfit Shine is a flying saucer-shaped device made of anodized aircraft-grade aluminum that’s  27.5mm in diameter (just over an inch if you’re not European) and 3.3mm thick (just over one eighth of an inch) and weighs next to nothing (9.4g, about one third of an ounce). It snaps into either of the included watchband-style strap or key fob so you can wear it on your wrist, your ankle, attached to your belt or shoe laces, clipped on to your shirt and so on. You can also purchase a pendant, a metal band, a leather band, or a necklace to hold the Shine.

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To detect your activity the Shine has a 3-axis accelerometer device and its use of Bluetooth BLE for transferring data to your smartphone, will work for around six months before needing a new battery. Although it is waterproof up to depths of 50m the device is not recommended for diving or snorkeling.

The face of the Shine has 12 discrete LEDs. If you tap the Shine twice the LEDs will indicate how much of your daily activity goal has been achieved followed by the time to the nearest 5 minutes (for example, if you were a quarter of the way to your goal you’d see the LEDs light up to the three o’clock position and if it was 6:08 the Shine would then have the LED at the six o’clock on solid and the LED at the two o’clock flashing) while tapping the Shine three times lets you tag the start of an activity such as running, swimming, or sleeping.

The Shine can also automatically detect when you’re sleeping and will analyze what type of sleep you’ve had (awake, light, or “restful”). The Shine also tracks calories expended, distance covered, and steps taken for the current day as well as for previous days and summarized for weeks or months. 

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Misfit app on iOS

The latest Misfit software, available for iOS and Android, is pretty slick and while there’s no data export from the app you can share your stats via social media, allow your steps taken data to be passed to Apple Health, and there are developer tools including a cloud API, an SDK for directly interacting with the Misfit Shine devices, and a programming library. You can also access your own data via If This Then That and have daily or weekly activity summaries emailed to you or save your data to a document or spreadsheet on Google Drive.

Now, you might not think that this is the kind of thing that would have value for you particularly if you’re a desk jockey but I think you’d be surprised by how interesting it is to see your sleep patterns and understand just how much (or how little) physical activity you perform. And as an aid to getting fit the Misfit Shine is a great tool. Imagine giving these to all your employees as part of an employee wellness campaign ... the impact of hard data in such a program is well-known to lead to more successful and better results.

Finally, the first of the fitness tracking device issues I mentioned above: Cost. The Misfit Shine is only $99.99. A bargain. I absolutely love this gadget and I’ll give the Misfit Shine a Gearhead Rating of 5 out of 5.

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