Though it's a bit late to the party, Amazon is entering the competitive fitness tracker space with its new Halo Band wearable and corresponding Halo app — complete with a subscription service, because you need another one of those. Amazon's version takes a decidedly low-tech angle compared to other options on the market, skipping the screen for a bunch of sensors, a benefit that provides up to seven-day battery life. It'll even use a microphone to record your "Tone" throughout the day and determine the "energy and positivity in a customer’s voice," and the app can use its camera to measure your body fat percentage.
The lack of a screen is by design. Amazon points out to us that the last thing we need in our lives is yet another display begging for our attention, so this is one less distraction while still getting the benefits of fitness tracking.
Like most fitness trackers, the Halo Band is able to monitor your daily activities, including exercise, walking, plus sleep monitoring with sensors including an accelerometer, thermometer, heart rate monitor, and two microphones. But Amazon is also mixing in some interesting machine learning-powered features that build upon the basics you'd expect. The Amazon Halo app can use AI with a feature it calls "Body" to measure your body fat percentage via your phone's camera — though not everyone will be willing to let their phone take unflattering photos in their underwear for the remote cloud processing required, even if Amazon says they're processed and immediately deleted.
A microphone also records your vocal tone throughout the day, so you can see how positive you've been in communications with others. There's something pretty funny about taking notes regarding the emotions in your voice from an unthinking, unfeeling machine. If you find it more disturbing than funny, the mic can also be disabled.
For those that are motivated more by a good challenge, Amazon's also including these sort of health experiments it calls Halo Labs, ostensibly "science-backed" workouts and lifestyle changes to help build healthier habits through trial and error that work specifically for them. Labs will be created by Amazon, but there will also be Labs from also other brands, organizations, and trainers, including the American Heart Association, Mayo Clinic, and Russell Wilson.
Other third-party integrations are also planned, including WW (Weight Watchers) collaborations. John Hancock Vitality members will also get three years of Halo membership.
The company claims that Halo was built with privacy in mind, including encryption of user data (including those undie photos) while they're in transit, and the remotely sent images are deleted after processing. "Tone" voice recording samples are analyzed entirely on-device and deleted after processing. Tone and Body are both optional features as well, so you don't have to use them if you don't want to.
Amazon is taking requests for "early access" as of today with a special introductory price of $65, and that includes six months of Halo membership. Prices will go up later to $100, and memberships renews at $4 a month. Without a membership, Halo Band owners still have access to "basic" features, including step counting, sleep time, and heart rate.
The Halo Band is available through Amazon in three base fabric color combinations (Black with an "Onyx" sensor, Blush with Rose Gold, and Winter with Silver). Other bands can also be purchased in fabric and silicone "sport" styles across a handful of branded colors.