Startups

Smart ring maker Motiv acquired by ‘digital identity’ company

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We weren’t alone in being impressed by Motiv. The startup helped flip the script on wearables by essentially cramming a fitness tracker’s worth of technology into a ring. This week, San Francisco “digital identity” startup Proxy announced that it’s acquiring the company.

The company’s site is littered in buzzwords, but Proxy specializes in digital key cards — essentially providing a way to use digital devices like smartphones to access businesses and homes. An odd fit for a company that makes exercise rings, until you look at what Motiv’s been up to in recent years.

Among the additions to the tiny hardware platform are NFC payments, lost phone tracking and two-factor device authentication through gait monitoring. Whether or not Proxy ultimately has interest in manufacturing and selling a fitness ring, there’s plenty of underlying technology here that would be of interest to a digital identity company.

Motiv crams a fitness band’s worth of functionality into a ring

“The demand for our technology is only going to increase and we saw a clear path forward in the importance of validating one’s identity in both the physical and digital worlds,” Motiv said in a blog post. “Keys, access cards and passwords are rapidly being replaced with a biometric identity which provides greatly improved security and convenience.”

While the app will continue to be available for download (no word on how long it will continue to offer support), the deal marks the end of Motiv’s online sales, while partner retailers will burn through the rest of their stock.

Proxy, on the other hand, says it’s committed to the ring as the future of the wearables category. “With this acquisition, Proxy plans to bring digital identity signals to smart rings for the first time and revolutionize the way people use technology to interact with the world around them,” the company writes. “We believe it’s possible to ignite a paradigm shift in how people use wearables to interface with the physical world, so they can do and experience things they never have before.”

While compelling, the fitness ring hasn’t exactly taken the wearable category by storm in the past three years, as the space continues to be almost exclusively dominated by smartwatches and headphones. For those who still believe in the form factor, Motiv has had some competition recently from companies like Oura, a ring largely built around sleep tracking. 

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