March 29, 2017

Motiv Ring is more challenging than a typical Internet of Things (IoT) product because of the ecosystem required to make it work. The signals coming off of our sensors on the Ring are interpreted by an algorithm, then the output of the algorithms get transmitted to the smartphone, then the data is presented in the app, and that data gets sent to our backend. All these processes must be optimized to fit within our extremely aggressive design envelope. Today, you can find components and algorithms “off the shelf,” but when you push the limits of what is possible – like we are with our form factor – those components rarely meet product specifications in terms of size and power efficiency. That’s where Andrew Stirn comes in. When he’s not flying planes or practicing falconry, he’s solving for all things data science.

What did you do before joining Motiv?

Before Motiv, I worked at a wearables company specializing in smartwatches, Basis, where I led the algorithms team and focused specifically on making the optical heart rate sensing the best it could be. After I left, Basis published two sponsored research papers with Cal Poly and UCSF where they independently verified the accuracy of our sensor and heart rate algorithm. It was nice to see that my work lived on, even after I left.

What do you do on a day-to-day basis at Motiv?

I design and deploy all the algorithms – the ways that the Ring tracks – such as heart rate, steps and sleep. I also wrote one for finger detection to detect if a ring is being worn or not. These days I spend a lot of time looking at people’s data and trying to make the algorithms perform even better for everyone.

What’s your favorite Motiv Ring feature?

I really like resting heart rate. I typically think that’s one of the more useful metrics and one of the hardest ones to observe yourself because it’s measured when you’re sleeping. To me the sleep features are the most compelling because we can’t observe our sleep easily ourselves. We can feel our heart rate and intensity when we’re working out and it’s super high, but we don’t really know what goes on when we’re asleep.

What’s your favorite thing about working here?

Well we have my favorite brand of BBQ potato chips in the snack drawer…but snacks aside, there are a lot of fun people here to work with. I also really like the size of the company – at my last job we had so many people, I like that here I know everyone’s name.

What are you most proud of?

At Basis we had one algorithm engineer per algorithm, but here I’ve had a major – if not complete – part in every algorithm. It’s been a lot of responsibility but has added exposure to my algorithm portfolio. Also, when I first started here I noticed that the heart rate sensor would have suffered a lot of problems in the real world despite performing well in the lab environment, so I pushed for a new sensor on the rings. It’s something I was able to recognize having shipped two generations of wearables, and catching it early saved the team a lot of time.

What’s your best Motiv story?

I was a huge skeptic that showing heart rate while exercising would actually work and didn’t agree to join the company until cofounder Peter showed me the signal of him walking on a treadmill to prove that it was possible. I also really enjoyed the offsites we’ve had, like the Tahoe ski trip and our office workouts.

That’s it! Got any questions for Andrew? Ask us on Facebook or Twitter.