Here’s some good news for health nerds out there: Amazon is bringing a fitness tracker to market. But Amazon’s new biometric wearable, which doesn’t have a screen, will do a lot more than monitor your heart rate and sleep patterns. In fact, if the device works as promoted, it will help you understand and improve your “social wellbeing.”
In an announcement made this morning (via The Verge), Amazon unveiled the band, which is the hardware component of a new health and wellness service dubbed Amazon Halo. According to Amazon, Halo combines “a suite of AI-powered health features” in order to deliver “Halo insights” to people. In other words, Halo users upload a boatload of their health data to the cloud with the Halo Band wearable, and then Amazon uses machine learning to comb through that data for patterns that are either healthy or unhealthy.
Like other fitness trackers, the Halo band monitors a wearer’s exercise patterns, but aims to do so in a more nuanced way. This nuance is based on a point system that rewards wearers with more points as their exercising increases in intensity; e.g. a wearer will earn more points for running than walking. Likewise, the system deducts points from wearers when they are sedentary for too long.
On top of the point system, Amazon’s tracker distinguishes itself from the competition with a body fat measurement tool. The tool, named “Body,” measures a wearer’s body fat percentage using machine learning (ML) algorithms. Essentially, the process works by having wearers use their smartphones to take pictures of their bodies, which are then sent to Amazon’s servers. The images are subsequently turned into a 3D scan, and analyzed using the ML algorithms to find body fat percentage.
Halo’s most notable distinguishing feature has to be its “tone of voice analysis tool,” however. The tool, dubbed “Tone” (of course), “analyzes energy and positivity in a user’s voice” —utilizing microphones in the band—in order to help them understand how they sound to others. Like Body, Tone uses ML, but in an effort to analyze how happy or sad a wearer sounds. The Halo app then turns that analysis into daily summaries with simple descriptors. For example, Halo may tell a wearer that they sounded “calm” in the morning.
Regarding the actual Halo band’s design, it looks similar to a Fitbit, only without the screen. The band, which will ultimately come in 18 different colors, still has a full suite of sensors, however. The band will also be available with either fabric or silicone straps, and have a battery life of seven days off a 90-minute charge.
Right now, people in the U.S. can request early access to Halo for a limited-time price of $64.99. These early birds will receive the band, as well as six months of Halo membership, which usually costs $3.99 per month. Those who buy the band after the early access period will pay $99.99 for the hardware, but the same monthly price for the service.
What do you think about the Amazon Halo band? Do you think the band has enough features to distinguish itself from Fitbits and the like? Let us know how news of this product has affected your social wellbeing in the comments!
Feature image: Amazon