Amazon aims at Fitbit and Apple with new Halo health tracker


Amazon is entering the wearable market in a big way. The firm unveiled a sensor fitted wristband called Halo that pairs with an artificial intelligence-powered companion app to provide insights into the user’s overall wellness. The device detects emotion by analyzing speech.Monitors sleep through heart rate, and tracks activity based on the intensity and duration of the movement. 

Amazon has leading the e-commerce market for years, but now wants a piece of the fitness tracker gold mine that set to be a $50 billion market this year. However, the market has become crowded by the Apple Watch, which held a 29.3 percent share in the first quarter of 2020, and several Fitbit devices.

Amazon on Thursday (27-08-2020) unveiled a wristband that goes beyond simply tracking activity to gauging how happy a person is by the sound of their voice.

Amazon has dipped its toes in the wearable market before with its wireless headphones and Alexa-powered glasses, but Halo is the firm’s chance to enter the ever-growing healthcare space.

‘Despite the rise in digital health services and devices over the last decade. We have not seen a corresponding improvement in population health in the US’ Amazon Halo’s Principal Medical Officer, Dr. Maulik Majmudar, said in a release.

 ‘We are using Amazon’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits.’

The Halo band available for pre-purchase in the US at $99.99 and the subscription service (which required for Halo’s more advanced features) costs $3.99 per month. The wristband detects emotion by analyzing speech, monitors sleep through heart rate, and tracks activity based on the intensity and duration of the movement. The sensor holds a range of sensors that gathers accurate information about the wear that calculated into insights about their health Halo resembles more of a Fitbit than an Apple Watch with just a band and a sensor housing capsule along the inside. 

The capsule what brings the device together, as it holds a range of sensors that gather accurate information about the wear that calculated into insights about their health. There is an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor, two microphones, an LED indicator light, and a button to turn the microphones on or off, among other functions.  

Also, unlike Apple, which pushes users to close rings, Halo is based on a point system to motivate wearers. The technology sets a 150 point weekly goal, and users gain a point for different tasks like running, walking, or playing their favorite sport. 

But points can also eliminated if the user sits too long.  Melissa Cha, vice president at Halo, told CNBC Amazon already well rounded when it comes to machine learning and computer vision but, the healthcare market was somewhat unknown territory. ‘We did a global search to find the best experts,’ said Melissa Cha. 

‘We found cardiologists, fitness experts, and people who had spent their careers researching sleep and wellness.’ She continues.

Also, Amazon Halo Band is water-resistant, allowing wears to swim and shower without removing the device, and is equipped with a battery that lasts for seven days on a single charge and it only needs ninety minutes to reach full power. 

‘Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep,’ said Dr. Maulik Majmudar. ‘Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the Halo Band sensors, and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness.’

However, Amazon is positioning Halo as a true fitness tracker due to the lack of display, allowing users to put more focus on their health and wellness without being distracted by other notifications. Along with activity, sleep, body fat, and tone monitoring, the system includes a suite of ‘Amazon Halo labs’ developed by Amazon partners. The firm says these are science-backed challenges, experiments, and workouts that help Halo users find what works best for them, allowing them to stick to a route and build healthier habits.

Amazon has come under fire in the past for its Alex smart assistant, as some claim the device invades users’ privacy, but the firm has stressed that is not the case with Halo. Amazon said it committed to not using customer’s insights to sell health-related products, but will use Halo to help improve their lives.