Amazon stretches into fitness trackers and wellness with the Halo
Amazon already makes ereaders, smart speakers and tablets, and now it makes fitness trackers too. The Halo is a new wearable that straps to your wrist and feeds data on your activities and sleep patterns back to an accompanying mobile app.
With no screen and just a couple of buttons, the Halo adopts a simple and straightforward design – black, rose gold and silver are the color choices – but the sensors inside, together with a sprinkling of artificial intelligence, will be able to offer plenty of insights into the health and wellness of users, Amazon says.
An accelerometer, a temperature sensor and a heart rate monitor are on board. This enables the wearable to track steps, different types of activity, and sleep (including deep sleep and light sleep). Points will be awarded on a daily basis for how much healthy activity a user has got through, with the app providing a deep dive into all these metrics.
The Halo also offers a couple of more unusual features. First it can use photos taken by the phone app to build up a 3D image of your body and measure your body fat percentage over time, which Amazon says is a better health indicator than weight or BMI (body mass index). It also promises that these images are only kept on your phone and not in the cloud.
Second, via two integrated microphones, the Halo will use recordings of your voice to try and judge your emotional wellbeing and stress levels. Your "energy and positivity" can be assessed in this way, and again everything is stored and processed on your phone rather than on Amazon's servers. If you don't like the idea of this, the microphones on the Halo can be disabled.
Amazon says more innovative and experimental features like these are on the way too, so it's obviously attempting to use software and AI smarts to draw much more information out of the raw data that the Halo is collecting. It's worth noting that the more advanced features – beyond steps, heart rate and basic sleep tracking – will require a monthly Halo subscription on top of the cost of the device.
Battery life will be an impressive 7 days, Amazon claims, with the band charging fully in 90 minutes. A variety of fabric and silicone bands are going to be available to buy, with 15 different band colors available in total if you want to switch up the look of your wearable. It'll work with both Android phones and iPhones.
"We are using Amazon's deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits," the Principal Medical Officer for Amazon Halo, Dr. Maulik Majmudar, said in a press statement. "Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep. Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the Halo Band sensors, and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness."
The Halo band isn't actually on sale in the traditional sense, but customers in the US can request "early access" from the product page. It's not clear exactly what early access means, or how many people will be selected to get a band, but the device currently costs US$64.99 with six months of the premium membership thrown in. The final retail price of the band is going to be $99.99, with membership another $3.99 a month.
Product page: Amazon Halo