Amazon is entering the portable fitness game. Halo is a small fabric band that does not have a screen and a monthly fee is required to be able to use it. But do not close the tab yet: there are some interesting technologies in there that can make this more appealing than the simple look would suggest.
Amazon Halo̵7;s big selling point is a holistic approach to health tracking using a variety of sensors, some of which go beyond anything you find in a Fitbit or Apple Watch. Halo tracks activity, heart rate and motion sensors, continuous sleep, body fat percentage (something you usually only see on scales) and even your tone of voice to detect your current emotional state.
Advanced sensors and machine learning
All of these sensors, Amazon claims, are combined with a sophisticated machine learning model in the included app and service. For example, Halo can not only monitor the duration of a particular activity but also its intensity, and place it above the standard “step tracking model” for daily motion tracking. Amazon says that the body fat calculator is twice as accurate as smart scales thanks to a deep kidney network and machine learning. It generates a 3D model of your body based on photos taken in the app (which are visible in the app), so users can predict future changes and track them over time.
The tone function uses “advanced machine learning-based speech processing technology” to analyze speech, discover pitch, intensity, tempo and rhythm and predict how others would react to it. This is quantified for the user in a series of qualities for your daily communication – specific conversations are marked as “hopeful” or similar based on time and recording. It’s kind of like an automatic fitness tracker, but for your mood and how others may react to it.
The information collected can be linked to users’ accounts with various other organizations in a feature that Amazon calls “Labs.” Halo is launched with integrated health tracking and training features from the American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, Weight Watchers, Aaptiv, OpenFit and more.
An integrity promise
Amazon’s press materials are filled with assurances that all information is completely confidential and only shared with partners by agreement. The tone recordings are sent, for example, “never to the cloud” and processed locally in the phone’s app. 3D body scans are deleted from the cloud after AI has been processed. Even with all these assurances, it’s understandable that some users may not be happy about Amazon (or even an Amazon-owned AI) holding pictures of them in their underwear.
The tracking system is no different from Whoop, a more niche fitness tracker (even without a screen) with a focus on more intense athletes who need data on performance and recovery. Amazon’s approach is more general and focuses on overall well-being.
It is also worth noting that Amazon charges much less. Whoop costs $ 30 per month (with a free strap), while Amazon Halo is $ 100 with six months of free service, then $ 4 per month after. (Without the monthly fee, Halo can track steps, heart rate, and sleep.) If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get early access to Halo for just $ 65, but it’s not clear when the hardware is actually shipping.
Halo is available in three sizes, with black, silver and pink color options and the usual collection of accessories. It is waterproof at 50 meters. Amazon says it lasts for two days on a charge if it tracks your vocal tone, but seven days if you turn that feature off. While a smartphone app appears, it does not appear to be in the App Store or Play Store yet.
Amazon Halo fitness band
Source: Amazon press