Amazon has been revolutionary in more ways than one and has pioneered change right from the way businesses work to consumer behavior – love it, hate it, you can’t live without it, and certainly not in a pandemic! Now, it is not the first to make a fitness band but it has launched it’s own called Halo and it certainly stands out from the competition not because of the brand name but because of some distinctive features. The Halo Band will cost $99.99 and the service (which is required for Halo’s more advanced features) costs $3.99 per month.
Health and wellness is one of the few industries still thriving in unprecedented times because physical and mental well-being is of utmost priority for everyone right now. Halo’s most exclusive feature is the fact that it creates a 3D model of your body and tracks the emotional tone in your voice for an even more personalized wellness journey. Technology with EQ (emotional quotient) capabilities are rare and mostly seen in experimental robots. The existing trackers can probably get an idea about your feeling through heart rate but evaluating your emotions through your voice is new in wearables. Another thing that sets it apart from others in the market is that it doesn’t have a screen which indicates that Amazon wants to focus less on sports and more on lifestyle changes. “Alongside cardio, sleep, body fat, and voice tone tracking, a Halo subscription will offer a suite of ‘labs’ developed by partners. They’re short challenges designed to improve your health habits — like meditation, improving your sleep habits, or starting up basic exercise routines,” says the team. To be clear, it is not a medical device!
While it provides the basic functions of a fitness tracker, it does lack some common advance features like GPS, cellular capabilities, and WiFi which strengthens the point that it is not meant to be yet another device giving you notifications, but a personal gadget that focuses on your well-being and healthy habits. The band connects with your phone via Bluetooth and has an app to track + store all your data. Halo includes an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor, two microphones with on/off controls, an LED indicator light. Interestingly, the microphones are not to speak to Alexa but to track the emotional tone of the user’s voice which is what makes it so special in the realm of fitness bands. It has also been stated that the user’s voice will not be heard by any human or stored in any server. “It picks up on the pitch, intensity, rhythm, and tempo of your voice and then categorizes them into “notable moments” that you can go back and review throughout the day. Some of the emotional states include words like hopeful, elated, hesitant, bored, apologetic, happy, worried, confused, and affectionate,” says the team.
Amazon did an internal study before it made the claim that smart scales that try to measure body fat using bioelectrical impedance are not as accurate as their scan. The other amazing feature is the 3D body model – uses your smartphone camera to capture a 3D scan of your body and calculate your body fat for more accurate reports. As soon as the scan is ready, your data (the photos you click for the scan) are permanently deleted from Amazon’s servers ensuring privacy and safety. The body scan feature is advised to be used carefully for people with body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, or other self-image issues. The body scan feature will also only be allowed for those who are above 18 and to make sure that people don’t develop an obsession it only allows you to scan yourself every two weeks. Amazon also won’t allow the slider to show dangerously low levels of body fat and it has information about how low body fat can increase your risk for certain health problems. It is designed in a way that users can wear the Halo Band all the time: the battery should last a full week and the sensor is water-resistant up to 5ATM or how Amazon calls it – “swimproof.”
Halo seems to be the perfect middle-ground for those looking to start their health and wellness journeys without being too focused on exercises alone. Halo does offer all functions of tracking activities as well as sleep, but it adds another dimension with its emotional appeal.