Companies focused on women’s health and wellness are on the rise. According to a Rock Health report, so far this year through third quarter 2015, nine women’s health companies have raised a total of $82 million compared to $29 million in 2014 and $2 million in 2011. From hardware to software, companies are focusing their efforts on women-specific issues like tracking menstrual cycles, bringing smart breast pumps to market, and providing a “feminine” touch to activity tracking. (I’m using air quotes here because a company attributing meaning to femininity can be problematic. Read on to find out why!) One of those women-specific companies is Mira.
Mira is a Chicago-based startup that raised $12,545 on Kickstarter in January 2015 to produce the Mira bracelet. With the tagline “Inspired by women, for women,” Mira markets their product as a “fashion-forward smart bracelet that captures your daily activity and motivates you to take small healthy actions each day. It’s time to feel as good as you look.” It retails for $169, comes in three sizes (petite, small and medium) and can be purchased on their web site and Amazon. I got to try out the Mira Bracelet this fall. Here’s what I thought:
Mira: What Stood Out
Let’s be real here: I never get compliments when I wear my Fitbit Charge HR. But within a day of wearing Mira, I got two compliments. Two! And that was just the beginning. The sleek gold stainless steel with a shiny “opal” in the middle (Not the gemstone, but Mira’s name for the removable black sensor that snaps into the band) is a breath of fresh air compared to the bulk of rubber-based wearables on the market. I don’t usually wear additional bracelets, but I can see the discreet Mira bracelet pairing well with other arm candy, too. And I bet you could wear this to a formal event, where it would blend in perfectly with classy evening attire.
2. Boosts (In Theory)
One feature that sets Mira apart from other wearables is “Boosts,” which includes motivational fitness and wellness tips that the user can activate within the app by pressing “Need Inspiration.” After I completed a Boost, you can click “I Did This!” I felt accomplished.
3. Removable Opal
You have options for how you want to wear your Mira: Besides the bracelet, you can remove the Opal and clip it to your bra, belt loop or pocket, which is helpful based on the activities you have planned for the day: Walk with it in your pocket, do a gym session with it clipped to your sports bra and then wear it at the office on your arm. It’s up to you!
With a band of metal around my wrist, I wasn’t sure if I would be comfortable wearing it while running—but I was pleased to find out that I didn’t even feel it while working out. The design of the C-shaped band makes it tricky to put on—you have to push the somewhat-pliable metal outward to create an opening large enough to squeeze your hand through—but it fits snugly around your wrist without feeling too tight.
5. Activity Cards
Mira gave me a focused, in-depth look at each activity that I completed in a dashboard format via its Activity Cards: When I took a walk, for example, Mira showed me Total Calories, Active Calories, Steps, Steps/Min, Miles and Feet, i.e., Elevation, in addition to the calorie equivalent that I had burned off (a chocolate chip cookie!), and a Boost. According to Mira’s User Guide, Mira generates an Activity Card when the user walks for a minimum of six minutes or runs for a minimum of three minutes. (My only question—how big is that chocolate chip cookie?!)
Mira: What Needs Improvement
1. Wearable Syncing Experience
The Mira set-up experience was all fun and games until I had to pair the wearable with the app. I did enjoy the app onboarding experience, where they asked me fun questions like “What’s your favorite metric?”, “What are the different ways you stay healthy?” and “When do you have the most energy?” (Though I would have loved more explanation of how they would be using my answers to optimize my Mira experience). And then—I got stuck:
When you pair the app with the device via Bluetooth, you get the above screen and know they are paired when a word shows up on the screen. Instead, the loading wheel kept turning, and I never saw a new word. I tried multiple times throughout the day but still didn’t get anywhere. My co-worker even tried pairing it with the app on her phone but didn’t have success. Fortunately, after reaching out to Mira’s customer support team, I learned how to reset my tracker, which resolved the issue.
2. Responsiveness and Display
I needed to constantly press against the opal in order for it to respond to my touch and display information. Hopefully, Mira will develop a more responsive opal in the future. It also took a while to figure out how to display anything but time on the opal. While the opal adds aesthetic to Mira, it misses out on the intuitive functionality that other wearables have to display information, which brings up the question of how wearables can optimize both function and fashion for users.
3. Lack of Push Notifications
The Mira app is one of the few apps that I’ve used that does not send out push notifications—and I actually wished they did. To make the most of the unique Boost feature (which is one of my favorite parts of the app!), Mira could send out a push notification while you’re going about your day to encourage you to do a certain activity. Without push notifications, I’m not as likely to remember to view a Boost for inspiration.
4. Stereotypical Messaging
Here is my biggest gripe about Mira: the messaging. It stereotypes women’s interests, suggesting that we all gravitate toward a bottle of wine or chocolate. Case in point, the names of their bracelet colors: “Heart of Gold,” “Hot Chocolate,” “Polished Jetsetter,” “Satin Rosé All Day,” “Polished Rosé All Day.”
I’m sick of women’s media putting us into a box: Sure, I like a nice glass of Riesling and am a chocolate fiend, but I also love craft beer and weight lifting. Women are complex. Being fed the same tired messaging is not empowering. This problematic messaging extends into their social media presence, too: Recently, Mira posted about their partnership with Skinny Girl for a popup event. Sorry, but not every woman is interested in dainty, low-calorie libations or being skinny. I turn to Clue, a cycle tracker, as a prime example of empowering messaging in the women’s health space. Their tagline: “Confident, scientific & NOT pink.” I encourage Mira to understand women’s needs from tracking and marketing perspectives.
Do I recommend Mira?
Overall, I recommend Mira for its motivational tracking and stylish design. It stands out from other wearables for its abilities to provide detailed tracking within the app (the bracelet has limited capacity to show metrics) and integrate into an outfit. There is room to improve on the ease of use, the opal display (both with responsiveness and capacity to show more than one metric) and messaging, but I’m interested in seeing how Mira develops to meet women’s needs in the future.
Also check out the Jawbone UP2 with thin strap for a stylish activity tracker
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