Watchmaker Fossil Group said today it would acquire Misfit, which creates various wearable and sleep trackers in addition to a health-tracking platform, for $ 260 million. Sonny Vu, CEO of Misfit, will serve as Fossil’s CTO. Misfit makes devices like the Shine, a wearable fitness and sleep tracker that costs $ 99 that the company says has a 6-month battery life. The company came out with… Read More
Fitness-minded individuals have devices like the Fitbit to track their steps and activities. Expectant mothers have Bellabeat. The startup has been selling a low-cost “connected system” that allows moms-to-be to track their pregnancies, including being able to hear, record and share their baby’s heartbeat via a pocket-sized ultrasound tool. Today, the company is releasing a… Read More
Lark, which launched a wearable silent alarm on-stage at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference back in 2010, has raised $ 3.1 million of an intended $ 3.6 million round of funding, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
I’ve emailed the company and its CEO Julia Hu for confirmation, and I’ll update this post if I hear back. The filing doesn’t specify the investors in the new round, but intriguingly, it does identify Weili Dai, president and co-founder of Marvell, as as member of its board of directors.
Although Lark started out with a silent alarm, it expanded its product lineup to include a sleep coach product called Lark Pro and a more general device and app called Larklife. The company announced Larklife in October of 2012, and Hu described it to me as a way for folks who aren’t as serious about fitness or weight loss to track and get actionable recommendations about their diet, exercise, sleep, and more. Like Lark’s other devices, Larklife was sold in Apple’s retail stores (and elsewhere).
I actually tried the service out for a few months late last year and early this year. During that time, everyone kept asking me about the blue wristband (the look definitely wasn’t as subtle as, say the Nike+ Fuel Band). I thought it had potential, but eventually I decided that it wasn’t providing enough value to justify the (minor) inconvenience — and, perhaps more damningly, the ridicule that it prompted from my roommate. In the months since, while I’ve seen an increasing number of people around San Francisco wearing some sort of fitness device, it usually isn’t the Larklife wristband.
Lark previously raised $ 1 million in funding from Lightspeed Venture Partners, CrunchFund (which, like TechCrunch, was founded by Michael Arrington), and others.
If you’re anything like me, you spend too much of your day at your desk, in front of your computer. During busy days — especially once you go deep into “the zone” — it’s easy for a few hours to fly in our usual, sedentary position. For this reason, I’m probably not the only one who could use a gentle reminder: “Hey Rip, you’ve been sitting for two hours, how about a walk?”
Well, my friends, your Fitbit can remind you that you’re behind on your steps, but what if your desk could remind you to stand up, or take a break? Thanks to Stir, a Los Angeles-born startup founded by former Apple, Disney and IDEO employees, now you can buy a smart desk that will do just that. The Stir Kinetic Desk, the startup’s first product, which launches today, combines the health-tracking software of popular wearables like FitBit and Up with connected hardware machine learning to create a new work experience that actually promotes movement — and your health.
Stir Founder and CEO JP Labrosse was one of the first 35 employees of the iPod Division at Apple, where he led the engineering development teams for two of early iPod projects, so it’s not surprising that the Kinetic Desk borrows a bit from the Apple design scheme. In particular, the desk comes with a built-in touch screen — about the size, shape, look of an iPod or iPhone — which allows users to change the configuration and height of their desk, or to go from sitting to standing (and back) just by double tapping.
Not only that, but the screen displays graphs and visual representations of a user’s movement, so they can quickly see how long they’ve been sitting and what their work habits and usage looks like. The desk contains a thermal presence sensor and computer outfitted with its health-tracking software, allowing it to track your movement and display that data through its touch screen.
While it may sound almost uncanny, not to worry, the desk isn’t yet outfitted with Siri’s voice or any sort of personal assistant. While Labrosse was willing to admit that the Stir Kinetic Desk could incorporate some Watson or HAL 9000-like features down the road, for now, the desk is meant to work in concert with the Internet of Things, not to try to commandeer it and dominate your office.
In fact, the desk tracks and adapts to your personal routine in such a way that’s meant to optimize health and productivity. The desk will display how many calories you’ve burned, time spent standing versus sitting — and your answer to “who is the most beautiful desk of them all?” of course.
Labrasse, echoing Harvard Business Review’s recent study, called sitting “the smoking of our generation,” which is probably a little overdramatic, but it’s true that in our overworked, over-connected modern work environment, we do spend more time in chairs than on our feet. While your Kinetic Desk won’t remind you to eat, shower, finish coding and go outside or be a better friend, it will help keep you upright and mindful of the healthier routine that’s right around the corner.
The desk also contains a setting called “active mode,” which you can activate by hitting a button on the front of the desk, which will put it into “Whisperbreath” mode — meaning that the desk prompts you to move after you’ve been sitting for too long with a gentle, one-inch rising and falling motion. You can then double tap to change positions.
Stir’s new smart desk also comes with built-in AC and USB ports (eight and four, respectively), connected to a single power cord you plug into the wall, and comes with Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity, which the CEO hopes will eventually allow the desk to integrate with third-party fitness and wellness devices. To think: Your desk could be come your fitness and wellness graph itself. Imagine that. The team will also eventually release a web-based dashboard to allow you to view your work and health data on the go.
The Stir Kinetic Desk has a hardwood surface, comes in white, espresso and four underside colors, and will retail at an expected $ 3,890. It’s not cheap, but, hey, you can’t put a price on good health, people, especially when it’s your office furniture that’s keeping you healthy.
Labrasse and the Stir team were kind enough to let us take their new health-conscious desk for a spin, and you’ll find our video below. Find the Stir Kinetic Desk at home here.