Amazon is stepping into the well being gadget market with a brand new health band and subscription service referred to as Halo. In contrast to the Apple Watch and even most simple Fitbits, the Amazon Halo Band doesn’t have a display screen. The app that goes together with it comes with the same old set of health monitoring options together with two revolutionary — and probably troubling — concepts: utilizing your digital camera to create 3D scans for physique fats and listening for the emotion in your voice.

The Halo Band will value $99.99 and the service (which is required for Halo’s extra superior options) prices $3.99 per 30 days. Amazon is launching it as an invite-only early entry program at this time with an introductory worth of $64.99 that features six months of the service totally free. The Halo service is a separate product that isn’t a part of Amazon Prime.

The shortage of a display screen on the Halo Band is the primary indicator that Amazon is making an attempt to carve out a distinct segment for itself that’s centered rather less on sports activities and train and a bit of extra on life-style modifications. Alongside cardio, sleep, physique fats, and voice tone monitoring, a Halo subscription will supply a collection of “labs” developed by companions. They’re quick challenges designed to enhance your well being habits — like meditation, bettering your sleep habits, or beginning up primary train routines.

The Halo Band “will not be a medical system,” Amazon tells me. As such, it hasn’t submitted the system to the FDA for any kind of approval, together with the lighter-touch “FDA clearance” that so many different health bands have used.


The Amazon Halo intro video. | Supply: Amazon

The Halo Band {hardware}

The Halo Band consists of a sensor module and a band that clicks into it on prime. It’s a easy idea and one we’ve seen earlier than. The shortage of a show signifies that if you wish to test your steps or the time, you’ll must strap one thing else to your wrist or simply test your telephone.

The three colour choices for the Halo Band.
Picture: Amazon

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Amazon will promote numerous totally different band kinds and colours.
Picture: Amazon

The band lacks more and more normal choices like GPS, Wi-Fi, or a mobile radio, one other signal that it’s meant to be a extra laid-back sort of tracker. It has an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a coronary heart price monitor, two microphones, an LED indicator gentle, and a button to show the microphones on or off. The microphones will not be for talking to Alexa, by the way in which, they’re there for the voice tone characteristic. There may be explicitly no Alexa integration.

It communicates together with your telephone by way of Bluetooth, and it ought to work equally effectively with each iPhones and Android telephones. The three predominant band colours that can be offered are onyx (black), mineral (gentle blue), and rose gold (pink-ish).

There’ll after all be a collection of non-compulsory bands so you may select one to match your model — and all of them bear no small resemblance to standard Apple Watch bands. The material bands will value $19.99 and the game bands can be $15.99.

Amazon intends for customers to depart the Halo Band on on a regular basis: the battery ought to final a full week and the sensor is waterproof as much as 5ATM. Amazon calls it “swimproof.”

However the place the Halo service actually differentiates itself is in two new options, referred to as Physique and Tone. The previous makes use of your smartphone digital camera to seize a 3D scan of your physique after which calculate your physique fats, and the latter makes use of a microphone on the Halo Band to take heed to the tone of your voice and report again in your emotional state all through the day.

Halo App Body Feature - Amazon Halo: a health band and app that scans your physique, listens to your voice

Halo’s physique scanning characteristic, which calculates physique fats proportion.
Picture: Amazon

Physique scans

Physique scans work with simply your smartphone’s digital camera. The app instructs you to put on tight-fitting clothes (ideally simply your underwear) after which stand again six toes or so out of your digital camera. Then it takes 4 images (entrance, again, and either side) and uploads them to Amazon’s servers the place they’re mixed right into a 3D scan of your physique that’s despatched again to your telephone. The information is then deleted from Amazon’s servers.

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Halo scans your physique with 4 images.
Video: Amazon

After getting the 3D scan, Amazon makes use of machine studying to research it and calculate your physique fats proportion. Amazon argues that physique fats proportion is a extra dependable indicator of well being than both weight or physique mass index. Amazon additionally claims that sensible scales that attempt to measure physique fats utilizing bioelectrical impedance will not be as correct as its scan. Amazon says it did an inside research to again up these claims and should start submitting papers to peer-reviewed medical journals sooner or later.

Lastly, after getting your scan, the app will provide you with a bit of slider you may drag your finger on to have it present what you’d appear like with kind of physique fats.

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Halo makes use of AI in Amazon’s cloud to create the 3D scan and calculate physique fats proportion.
Video: Amazon

That characteristic is supposed to be instructional and motivational, nevertheless it is also actually harmful for folks with physique dysmorphic dysfunction, anorexia, or different self-image points. I requested Amazon about this instantly and the corporate says that it has put in what it hopes are just a few safeguards: the app recommends you solely scan your self each two weeks, it gained’t enable the slider to point out dangerously low ranges of physique fats, and it has details about how low physique fats can enhance your danger for sure well being issues. Lastly, though anyone 13 years of age and up can use the Halo Band, the physique scan characteristic will solely be allowed for folks 18 or older.

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Halo listens to your voice and guesses at your emotional state.
Video: Amazon

Monitoring the tone of your voice

The microphone on the Amazon Halo Band isn’t meant for voice instructions; as an alternative it listens to your voice and stories again on what it believes your emotional state was all through the day. If you happen to don’t choose in, the microphone on the Band doesn’t do something in any respect.

As soon as you choose in, the Halo app may have you learn some textual content again to it in order that it will possibly prepare a mannequin in your voice, permitting the Halo Band to solely key in in your tone and never these round you. After that, the band will intermittently take heed to your voice and choose it on metrics like positivity and vitality.

It’s a passive and intermittent system, which means you can’t actively ask it to learn your tone, and it’s not listening the entire time. It’s also possible to mute the mic at any time by urgent the button till a pink blinking LED briefly seems to point out you it’s muted.

Amazon is fast to notice that your voice is rarely uploaded to any servers and by no means heard by any people. As an alternative, the band sends its audio snippets to your telephone by way of Bluetooth, and it’s analyzed there. Amazon says that the Halo app instantly deletes the voice samples after it analyzes them on your emotional state.

It picks up on the pitch, depth, rhythm, and tempo of your voice after which categorizes them into “notable moments” you can return and evaluate all through the day. A number of the emotional states embrace phrases like hopeful, elated, hesitant, bored, apologetic, completely satisfied, fearful, confused, and affectionate.

We requested Amazon whether or not this Tone characteristic was examined throughout differing accents, gender, and cultures. A spokesperson says that it “has been a prime precedence for our group” however that “when you have an accent you should use Tone however your outcomes will seemingly be much less correct. Tone was modeled on American English nevertheless it’s solely day one and Tone will proceed to enhance.”

Halo App Home Screen - Amazon Halo: a health band and app that scans your physique, listens to your voice

The Halo app’s predominant display screen.
Picture: Amazon

Knowledge privateness

Each the Physique and Tone options are revolutionary makes use of of utilized AI, however they’re more likely to set off any variety of privateness alarm bells. Amazon says that it’s being extremely cautious with consumer knowledge. The corporate will submit a doc detailing each sort of information, the place it’s saved, and tips on how to delete it.

Each characteristic is opt-in, straightforward to show off, and it’s straightforward to delete knowledge. For instance, there’s no requirement you create a physique scan and even in case you do, human reviewers won’t ever see these photographs. Amazon says probably the most delicate knowledge like physique scans and Tone knowledge are solely saved regionally (although images do must quickly be uploaded so Amazon’s servers can construct the 3D mannequin). Amazon isn’t even permitting Halo to combine with different health apps like Apple Well being at launch.

A number of the key factors embrace:

  • Your Halo profile is distinct out of your Amazon account — and it’ll must be individually activated with a second issue like a textual content message in order that anyone else that may share your Amazon Prime can’t get to it.
  • You possibly can obtain and delete any knowledge that’s saved within the cloud at any time or reset your account to zero.
  • Physique scans and tone knowledge might be individually deleted individually from the remainder of your well being knowledge.
  • Physique scans are solely briefly uploaded to Amazon’s servers then deleted “inside 12 hours” and scan photographs are by no means shared to different apps just like the picture gallery until you explicitly export a picture.
  • Voice recordings are analyzed regionally in your telephone after which deleted. “Speech samples are processed regionally and by no means despatched to the cloud,” Amazon says, including that “Tone knowledge gained’t be used for coaching functions.”
  • Knowledge can be shared with third events, together with some companions like WW (previously Weight Watchers). Knowledge generated by the “labs” characteristic is simply shared as nameless mixture data.

Halo App Activity Feature - Amazon Halo: a health band and app that scans your physique, listens to your voice

Halo’s exercise tracker does greater than depend steps.
Picture: Amazon

Exercise and sleep monitoring

The physique scanning and tone options is perhaps probably the most flashy (or, relying in your perspective, most creepy) elements of Halo, however the factor you’ll seemingly spend probably the most time watching is your exercise rating.

Amazon’s Halo app tracks your cardio health on a weekly foundation as an alternative of each day — permitting for relaxation days. It does depend steps, however on a prime stage, what you get is an abstracted rating (and, after all, a hoop to finish) that’s extra holistic. Simply as Google did in 2018, Amazon has labored with the American Coronary heart Affiliation to develop the abstracted exercise rating.

The Halo Band makes use of its coronary heart monitor to tell apart between intense, reasonable, and light-weight exercise. The app combines these to make sure you’re hitting a weekly goal. As an alternative of the Apple Watch’s hourly “stand” prompts, the Halo app tracks how lengthy you’ve got been “sedentary.” If you happen to go for greater than eight hours with out doing a lot (not counting sleep), the app will start to deduct out of your weekly exercise rating.

Halo App Sleep Feature - Amazon Halo: a health band and app that scans your physique, listens to your voice

Halo’s sleep monitoring characteristic.
Picture: Amazon

The Halo Band can robotically detect actions like strolling and operating, however actually each different sort of train will must be manually entered into the app. The entire system feels much less designed for exercise min-maxers and extra for individuals who simply wish to begin being extra lively within the first place.

Talking of coronary heart monitoring, the Halo Band doesn’t proactively warn you to coronary heart situations like atrial fibrillation, nor does it do fall detection.

The Halo Band’s sleep monitoring equally tries to create an abstracted rating, although you may dig in and consider particulars in your REM sleep and different metrics. One small innovation that the Halo Band shares with the brand new Fitbit is temperature monitoring. It makes use of a three-day baseline if you end up sleeping and from there can present a chart of your common physique temperature if you get up.

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The Halo Band’s sensor array.
Picture: Amazon

Halo Labs, partnerships, and the subscription

Lastly, Amazon has partnered with a number of third events to create providers and research to associate with the Halo service. For instance, in case your well being care supplier’s system is appropriate with Cerner, you may select to share your physique fats proportion together with your supplier’s digital medical data system. Amazon says it can even be a completely backed possibility for the John Hancock Vitality wellness program.

The flagship partnership is with WW, which syncs up knowledge from Halo into WW’s personal FitPoints system. WW can even be selling the Halo Band itself to individuals who join its service.

There are dozens of lower-profile partnerships, which can floor within the Halo app as “Labs.” Lots of the labs will floor as four-week “challenges” designed to get you to vary your well being habits. Companions creating Labs vary from Mayo Clinic, Exhale, Aaptiv, Lifesum, Headspace, and extra. So there is perhaps a lab encouraging you to offer yoga a strive or a set of recommendation on sleeping higher like kicking your pet out of your bed room.

Amazon says every Lab must be developed with “scientific proof” of its effectiveness and Amazon will audit them. Knowledge created from these challenges can be shared with these companions however solely in an aggregated, nameless manner.

Nearly all of the options mentioned listed below are a part of the $3.99 / month Halo subscription. If you happen to select to let it lapse, the Halo Band will nonetheless do primary exercise and sleep monitoring.

In charging a month-to-month subscription, Amazon is out on a limb in comparison with most of its rivals. Firms like Fitbit and Withings supply among the similar options you may get out of the Halo system, together with sleep monitoring and solutions for bettering your health. Additionally they have extra full-featured bands with shows and different performance. And naturally there’s the Apple Watch, which may have deeper and higher integrations with the iPhone than will ever be potential for the Halo Band.

General, Halo is a curious combine. Its {hardware} is deliberately much less intrusive and fewer feature-rich than rivals, and its pricing technique places Amazon on the hook for creating new, common content material to maintain folks subscribed (train movies seem to be a pure subsequent step). In the meantime, the physique scanning characteristic goes a lot additional than different apps in instantly digitizing your self-image — which is both interesting or disturbing relying in your relationship to your self-image. And the emotion monitoring with Tone is totally new and greater than a bit of bizarre.

The combo is so eclectic that I can’t probably guess who it’d enchantment to. People who find themselves extra severe about train and health will certainly need greater than what’s on supply within the {hardware} itself, and individuals who simply kind of wish to be a bit of extra lively might balk on the subscription worth. And because the Halo Band doesn’t supply the identical well being alerts like fall detection or irregular coronary heart price detection, utilizing it as a extra passive well being monitor isn’t actually an possibility both.

That doesn’t imply the Halo system can’t succeed. Amazon’s imaginative and prescient of a extra holistic well being gadget is interesting, and a few of its selections in the way it aggregates and presents well being knowledge is genuinely higher than easy step counting or ring completion.

We gained’t actually understand how effectively the Halo system does for a while, both. Amazon’s opening it up as an early entry program for now, which implies it’s worthwhile to request to affix slightly than simply signing up and shopping for it.

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