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Apple acknowledged the importance of exercise to the smartphone generation with its recent advertising campaign, which featured all sorts of people working out with the help of gadgets and apps. One of these is the Misfit Shine. We test this gadget to see if it’s worthy of a place in the fitness tech pantheon.
What is it?
The Misfit Shine is a small circular sensor, just shy of 30mm in diameter, which you wear each and every day in a similar way to the Fitbit Flex. It’s designed to be worn anywhere on your person, and you get a wrist strap as well as a magnetic loop attachment. The latter will let you clip the Shine pretty much anywhere on your person, like a shirt collar or belt loop. The Shine is then ready to track your activity as you go about your day.
The sensor uses a regular watch battery which lasts up to four months. It’s quite liberating not having to charge it every night. The Shine is also waterproof to 50m so you don’t have to worry about taking it off to swim or shower.
Activities the Shine can monitor includes the usual walking and running but it also tracks swimming, cycling, basketball, soccer and tennis.
It uses special algorithms to calculate the various different activities but you’ll have to let it know beforehand through the Misfit Shine app on iOS or Android. You can program it so that a triple tap of the Misfit Shine sensor will put it into ‘activity’ mode for whatever activity you set as default. So if you swim regularly, it can be set beforehand and you can avoid the kerfuffle of dealing with the app. The Shine is also able to track your sleeping as well.
Misfit Shine app
The sensor would be virtually useless without a companion app that can turn the data into something understandable. That’s where the Misfit Shine app for iOS or Android comes in. Through the app you’re able to set your ‘daily goal’ which is a handy target for you to work towards. Every step you take while wearing the Misfit is converted into points, and likewise any other activities are also converted.
You’re then able to double-tap the Shine sensor and built-in lights illuminate to show how close you are to your goal. Having a visual cue within easy reach is a surprisingly effective motivator to get up and move when you know you’re going to come short of your target – like taking the stairs rather than the lift.
Syncing your Shine with the app is super simple: you simply place the sensor on your iOS device’s screen and it begins syncing. It’s not quite so cool-looking with Android – you just press a button in the app to sync.
The amount of points you’ve accumulated are then displayed as well as a percentage of your set daily goal. You’ll also see how much distance you’ve covered and the exact number of steps you’ve taken. Your calorie expenditure is also displayed but it’s worth noting this is based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and not just calories you’ve burned through being active.
The app calculates your BMR based on the gender, age, height and weight you supply when creating an account and then any activity you complete is added on top. The app also shows how much sleep you’ve had and we found this pretty accurate in terms of total hours. The app also lets you know how much of the time was spent in ‘Deep Sleep’, the most important phase of your night’s rest because it’s when your body begins to recover and repair from your day’s hard graft.
However, as the sensor only detects movement during the night, the app lumps together ‘Rapid Eye Movement’ (REM) sleep with Deep Sleep. REM sleep is when your body isn’t moving but your brain is still active. As Deep Sleep is one of the most important phases, we would have liked to know a more accurate analysis.
You’re also able to follow the progress of other users through the app and the public accountability might help keep you keep motivated.
The Shine does an excellent job of motivating you to get moving thanks to its easily accessible read-out of your daily progress. Having sleep tracking also makes you want to go to bed earlier as well.
There are some small niggles with the Shine. The sensor has a watch function but it’s basically useless because it only shows you the time to the nearest five minutes. It’s also difficult to see the lights on the sensor in bright sunlight and you’ll need a network connection to sync, which is frustrating.
However, great battery life and convenient ways to wear the sensor means the Shine is easy to put on and then forget about, and at £80 it’s reasonably priced.