Amazon is introducing a new fitness band, Halo, and it has exploded my brain. It listens to your voice, and uses your phone’s camera to create a 3D body scan of you, in your underwear. What could possibly go wrong?
First, the facts
The Amazon Halo costs $99 USD, plus a subscription for advanced features at $3.99 a month. Without the subscription, you get basic sleep time, heart rate, and step tracking.
Amazon is launching it as an invite-only early access program with an discounted price of $64.99 that includes months of the service for free. The Halo service is a separate product that isn’t part of Amazon Prime, so if you already have Prime, you’re going to have to pay for this on top, as you would with Amazon’s premium Music offering.
The Halo band has no screen. So then what does it do?
What it does
- Tracks the tone of your voice, to gauge mood and judge positivity or negativity
- Body composition analysis
- sleep & activity tracking
- Science-backed experiments and challenges from experts like the Mayo Clinic, SWEAT, and Headspace.
What it looks like
There’s just a thin band, over the top of a thin sensor array, with microphones. The whole thing is meant to be slim for comfort while sleep tracking. And they may have nailed this: most devices are too bulky and uncomfortable to wear while sleeping. Amazon Halo looks like they may have gotten this part right.
There’s no screen. You don’t interact with Halo. You interact with your phone.
Battery life is 7 days without listening 24/7, 2 days with listening 24/7.
Breaking it down,
- listens to you 24/7. and you pay for this.
- wants you to take underwear selfies for upload to Amazon’s server (just once, so they can build a 3D model)
- it knows when you are sleeping, it knows when you’re awake
- and can challenge you to be more active, or play headspace audio to tell you to feel more positive. Or else.
On Data Privacy
Amazon doesn’t have any Alexa services tied into this product, but it is listening 24/7.
They don’t tie into Google Fit or Apple Health, saying, that they’re being incredibly careful with user data.
But then, in a direct contradiction, they are partnering with WW (formerly Weight Watchers) and John Hancock Vitality at launch, sharing data with them.
To be really clear: John Hancock Vitality is a program by John Hancock Insurance, where you can reduce your insurance premiums by giving your health data to the insurance company. That’s it – prove you’re active, give up your data to be used for or against you.
On top of that, there are over 100 tests to help you improve health, from Maya Clinic, Lifesum, OpenFit, Aaptiv, JulianTreasure, and more.
Amazon says you can delete everything from their servers at any time, that 3D scans are deleted as soon as they’re done modeling them on the server, and that voice data is always analyzed on the phone, never in the cloud.
It strikes me as sad that Amazon is resisting sharing data with Apple Health, but sharing with these other apps.
Here’s what’s going on
Amazon wants to build a platform that is post-cell phone. They can’t do it yet, so the phone is a bridge device for now.
Amazon Alexa leapfrogs the cell phone by doing everything with voice, and voice on every device.
Amazon Halo doesn’t do this, because its voice isn’t tied into Amazon Alexa.
But it does mean all your data goes to Amazon, or their chosen partners, not competitors like Apple or Google.
If you want to purchase and be Amazon’s experiment, here’s the link.