The Misfit Shine

Over the past 12 months, the chatter about wearables (glasses, watches, bands, clothing, material) has become too loud to ignore. It almost seems like manufacturers will force consumers to like wearables, like it or not.

There are good uses for wearables, and one of the most common is the fitness tracker.

Although I haven’t worn one myself until recently, I’ve been around lots of people who have, e.g. my wife had an early FitBit, Noel (@noelportugal) was an early adopter of the Nike+ Fuelband and has a Jawbone UP, Ultan (@ultan) has at least a dozen different fitness trackers, etc.

I finally made the jump and bought the Misfit Wearables Shine, and after wearing it for a week, I’m impressed. I do wonder how long it will keep my attention though.

Of all the fitness bands and smartwatches (and smartphone apps) that track activity, I chose the Shine because I love the small form factor and the flexible ways to wear it. The Shine is about the diameter of a quarter, and guessing here, about the thickness of two or three quarters stacked.

So, yeah, it’s small. It comes with a wristband and a magnetic clasp, and you can buy other, erm, Shine holders including necklaces, leather wristbands and even socks and t-shirts, specifically designed to hold the little guy.

Another plus for the Shine is that it takes a standard watch battery, no need to charge it or tether it for syncing, a common complaint about other fitness trackers.

The Shine uses Bluetooth 4.0 (a.k.a. Bluetooth Low Energy) to communicate with the phone. BLE uses less power than the older spec, but keeping the Bluetooth receiver on all the time runs down the battery noticeably.

misfit-wearables-shine-exploreEven though its design is minimalist, the Shine can tell you the time, if you learn its indicators and ensure you know which side is 12 o’clock. Easier than a binary clock, but requires some learning.

My experience so far has been pretty positive. I like the little guy, but I’m not sure how long I’ll stay engaged. This isn’t a Misfit problem though.


There are some noteworthy negatives.

Misfit only provides a mobile app for the Shine, no accompanying web app, which I actually don’t mind, yet. This does limit the metrics and analytics a bit, which I know other people like, especially as they accumulate data over time. So, this will eventually bug me

I’m a fan of the quantified self, to a fault; I used to carry a workout journal with eight years of handwritten data in it.

I’m *that* guy.

Misfit has no publicly-available developer options, no APIs, no SDK. They have been promising an API for a while now, so I assume it’s coming soon. An SDK would be nice, e.g. to allow developers to access the Shine for glanceable notifications. Not sure if that’s in the cards or not.

Finally, one of the positives can be a negative. I like the different options for wearing the Shine, and I’ve tested out both the sports band and the magnetic clasp. The latter leads me to a con; it’s easy to lose the Shine.

Case in point, I was wearing the Shine attached to my shorts. I went about my day and suddenly realized it was missing. Looking at the last time I had synced, I retraced my steps to no avail, using the Bluetooth scanning feature as a BLE dowsing rod of sorts.

As a last resort, I pinged Noel, BLE master. He pointed me to an Android app called simply Bluetooth 4.0 Scanner and within minutes, I had found it.


Huzzah for Noel! Huzzah for Bluetooth 4.0 Scanner! Reading the comments on that app shows that my use case is not unique. Perhaps the developer should rename it, Fitness Band Finder, or some such.

Anyway, that’s my week or so with the Misfit Shine.

Find the comments.




  1. @Ultan: The Shine is really well-done. I’m still liking it after a week, which is good. The software will eventually fold under itself, but it’s good for now. Now, about that SDK . . . .

    Nowadays don’t people in certain circles *expect* that anything worn on the wrists should do something. Purely ornamental? That’s so 00s.

  2. Prolly. Say or do something. Must get one. Best Buy have em too. The wrist is still the location of choice for wearables. For now.

  3. @Ultan: Not that I’d wear it, but I wonder how well the Shine works on the necklace. Been wondering how metrics compare when Shine is worn in different places.

  4. Funny, we’ve just been rolling out FitBits to the team and one of the observations was that the fact that it if you wore it on different parts of the body you could get different results. Obviously the Flex is optimized for the wrist, asking for example, which wrist is dominant.

    Prolly the same for the Shine. Interesting experiment I guess.

  5. @Ultan: Dunno, the Shine seems to register running and walking better when attached to my sock vs. on the wrist. I do worry it will come loose and become a projectile though.

  6. @jake OK I’ll bite. What happened the 8 years worth of handwritten workout data, then? It’s a big enough PITA exporting GPX files between Strava and RunKeeper (yes, I’m *THAT* guy who can’t let go of an App), so surely there’s tons of fitness data out there that needs to go digital… business case?

  7. @Ultan: I think it’s somewhere in my basement in a tub that has old stuff like gloves, straps, belts, etc.

    Assuming the tipping point is soon for fitness trackers, consolidation will come next and might help you.

  8. Now that I’ve been using the Shine for about two weeks (in four countries, which can’t be bad), I have a somewhat more eh, nuanced take on matters.

    I’m one of those UX types who believe that UX starts in the box and what happens offline is as important as online. Think Apple of even Google Glass. The Glass presentation in particular is a real tribute to design and simplicity. What happens after that is another matter…

    OK, the Shine didn’t come in a traditional box per se. In comes in a mostly circular plastic container thing with a transparent cover. At first I thought the whole thing was some kinda hip-hop Flava Flav wearable tech clock thing to hang around your neck (*memo: check patent possibilities). Anyhoo, it was grief getting the thing out of the box, the assistance diagrams (hidden on underside of packaging in the box), pretty useless), but it probably helped me burn a ton of calories … smart, eh? YouTube videos to the rescue.

    I also purchased a leather strap for my Shine … I inserted the Shine into the strap, but got it angled up wrong, but could I remove it and replaced it, lined up nicely for easily glanceability? Nah. Shoulda stuck with the basic strap I guess. That little wrench tool was no help sadly.

    None of this is a showstopper, but for a simple device it kinda spoiled it for me, and the OOTB anecdote will persist for me longer than any insights into “glanceable UIs.”

    Still I like the device itself, even if it’s a little understated, perhaps. On reflection, I also feel valuable real estate (i.e., the stuff inside the circular LEDs) on the Shine is wasted and something else could be done in the space – maybe it will – what, I don’t know. And I do think the method of syncing – putting the Shine on a circular sensor on the phone screen itself is naff and somewhat unnatural, but whatever. Maybe that’s the angle they want.

    So, the search continues for the OOTB wearables that rock my UX world. So many to choose from…. so little arm space left… Must blog about it.

  9. @Ultan: Interesting observations, thanks.

    Packaging: Agreed, weird and clunky despite looking pretty cool.

    Strap: Don’t have that problem, the rubber watch band is easy, good info though.

    Syncing: Noel says they are very conscious of battery life, which means syncing has to be done very close to the phone. I’m able to do it without taking the Shine out of the band though, just bump them up close.

    Lights: Interesting point, hadn’t thought of that, but again, battery concerns.

  10. You guys still wearing your devices? I abandoned mine a few months ago and only have revived them at Thao’s insistence. (She didn’t have anyone to compete with anymore on Fitbit). The Basis is the best one though. I wear the Fitbit solely to please management.

  11. @Joyce: I’m still wearing the Shine. I enjoy competing vs. myself. Noel jumps around between devices; he’s just in it until the next, new shiny object.

  12. I am unfamiliar with the Shine. It’s the first one I’ve heard of where you can wear it swimming. How is its accuracy?

    I like that it can be jewelry too. I may have found the use for my prize money (or maybe Rafa or Osvaldo’s prize money).

  13. @Joyce: None of the fitness trackers are all that accurate. Ultan wears a Shine among his many devices. He could comment on accuracy.

    I haven’t swum w the Shine, but I do shower w it, no problems.

  14. @Jake: are there any studies out there on fitness tracker accuracy? My sense is that the Basis is way more accurate than the Fitbit, but I haven’t seen any actual test comparisons.

  15. @Joyce: I haven’t seen any. We could do one w Ultan as the test subject 🙂 I’ve heard good things about the Basis, including its accuracy. Wonder how Intel will treat it.

  16. help!! I just lost my misfit shine, and I got the same Bluetooth 4.0 scanner. But when I went looking and scanning,nothing like the labels he got showed up. help!

  17. @Matt: You’ll have to retrace your steps and be patient. The range on BLE is functionally pretty short, so you need to be close. Good luck.

  18. Lost mine and it sat outside overnight. I wonder if misfit changed the firmware to put the BT to sleep if there’s no activity. I could not find mine with the scanner app. I found it the old fashion way, my eyes. Once I picked it up and started walking, the scanner found it. Better later than ever – well, not this time. Ha!

  19. @Kevin: Odd, but I guess that makes sense. They should add a lost tracker signal to blink the lights or something.

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