The Tao WellShell was one of our favorite gadgets at CES this year, but the version we tried was a prototype, with no fixed release date attached. That has all changed thanks to the launch of a Kickstarter campaign for version 2.0 of the device, which aims to get the device in your hands (or clamped against your body, or between your knees) before the end of the year.
Updated on 04-08-2014 by Andy: Tao Wellness, the company behind the WellShell, has sent out images showing the final design of the fitness device. The smooth, two-tone gadget has a simple display, and the design is said to be more comfortable in more positions than the original seen at CES. The new design isn’t only about visual changes, and apparently, the pressure sensor has been improved too. The Kickstarter campaign is still ongoing, and at the time of writing, it is still $40,000 away from its $100,000 target with nine days to run. You can see the updated design in the pictures we’ve added in here.
If you didn’t catch our hands-on with the WellShell, the easiest way to describe it is a Wii Fit board for your hands. It’s a small, shell-shaped device designed to provide a simple but effective workout for the space or time-challenged fitness freak. Grabbing the WellShell, you exert different degrees of force by pressing it between your hands, all the while following structured exercises presented on the Bluetooth linked iOS or Android app.
According to Tao, the WellShell uses the same principles as yoga and Pilates, which it calls Variobics. There are 50 different exercises stored in the app from the start, all with instructions and short videos to ensure your form is correct. It’s designed to be kept with you, so it’ll also count your steps, plus it will monitor your heart rate, and your sleep patterns. We loved it at CES, particularly the gamification aspect, where you could challenge a fellow WellShell owner to games controlled by the device, and played on your tablet, phone, or even streamed to the big screen.
The Kickstarter campaign is being used to finalize the design, which may now include a built-in display, and bring in manufacturing experts. If you’re quick, the WellShell 2.0 is yours for $100. Miss this early bird special, and the price goes up to $150, then $224 and $274. These are also limited time offers, and the retail price is expected to be $300, so it’ll be worth getting your bid in if you want one. Sadly, these early offers are only for delivery in the U.S. Tao expects to ship the WellShell in November this year.