Why People Spent $450K on a Ring That Doesn't Seem to Exist
Indiegogo campaign is shut down, with no BioRing in sight
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2016 7:15 AM CST
Updated Dec 10, 2016 12:09 PM CST
Indiegogo shut down the popular BioRing campaign in late October "due to a violation of our Terms of Use."   (Indiegogo screenshot)

(Newser) – A ring that seemed too good to be true is apparently too good to exist at all. So reports Vocativ in an exposé about a product that may have never been in the works—and the marketing teams and fundraisers who were seemingly duped by a shiny gadget. The object at hand is the BioRing, a waterproof heart rate monitor and fitness tracker that claimed it would be able to do something medical researchers have not yet achieved: count the calories its wearer consumes, and even differentiate between calories from fat, protein, and carbs. It's something of a holy grail for diet and fitness tracking, and hundreds of people chipped in more than $450,000 to the product's Indiegogo campaign, which launched last June. Forbes thought it might be "the next evolution in wearable tech," while Tech Times likened it to having a "personal trainer at users' fingertips."

But the campaign has ended, with an Indiegogo message explaining only that it "violated our Terms of Use." Only about $200,000 has been returned to backers, and no ring is in sight. It all looks dubious in hindsight. Michael Johnson, a co-founder, claimed to have experience as an "algorithm developer" at cancer treatment firm Elekta, which tells Vocativ it has no record of the man's employment. A separate Indiegogo page created by scientists and consumer advocates (it's not selling anything) flat out calls the BioRing a "scam" and picks apart the claims one by one. It also accuses Indiegogo of being too lax on vetting such products. "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is," they caution. By Vocativ's calculations, Indiegogo made about $23,000 on the elusive ring. (Beware your online holiday shopping.)

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