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With a major new hire, Misfit Wearables is gearing up for a big hardware push.
Misfit has brought on Josh Banko, a former senior engineering manager at Apple, who led the team that created the iPad as its vice president of hardware.
After joining Misfit at the beginning of July, Banko tells me he’s now focused on building up the company’s engineering team, including finding people with mechanical and electrical expertise, as well as program managers. Most recently at Apple, Banko managed the design of the new Mac Pro, which sports a unique cylindrical design.
Misfit has so far released two products: the attractive Shine health tracker, which debuted last year, and the recently launched Beddit sleep monitor. The company tells me it has shipped more than 400,000 Shine units so far.
“I think Misfit is kind of taking a radical approach by not charging with the Shine [it relies on a watch battery, not a rechargeable battery],” Banko said in an interview with VentureBeat. “There’s a need to miniaturize the technology, to make it seamless in someone’s life.”
Indeed, the seamless design of the Misfit Shine is precisely what differentiates it from most other health trackers on the market. It’s about the size of the quarter and sports a sleek metal design, making it something you can wear on your wrist during the day (with an included wristband) and also surreptitiously clip onto evening wear. Still, the company has plenty of room for improvement when it comes to offering the same amount of robust activity data that competitors do.
While he couldn’t say much about what the company has cooking, Banko hinted that there will “definitely be some big news by the end of the year.” Misfit is certainly overdue for a new Shine model, but the company isn’t afraid to explore new sorts of gadgets. Its Beddit sleep monitor, for example, is a device that sits underneath your sheets for accurate sleep tracking.
Misfit has raised more than $23 million from investors including Horizon Ventures, Founders Fund, and Khosla Ventures. It also raised almost $850,000 in its Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign a few years ago — blowing past its initial goal of $100,000.
“One thing I learned from Apple was to push the limits of things, we didn’t constrain people,” Banko said. “We want to have that same mindset [at Misfit]. We’ll do anything that we feel is compelling to consumers, and we’ll execute so it’s the most delightful product they know.”
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