Amazon enters fitness tracker market with a wellness band and subscription service
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Amazon enters fitness tracker market with a wellness band and subscription service

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Tech giant Amazon has entered the highly-contested health and fitness tracking market with a huge splash, launching an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered wearable alongside a subscription service and smartphone app.

Designed to help users achieve "long-term health and wellness benefits", the new Amazon Halo Band is able to collect highly reliable and accurate data. It is also water resistant, allowing all-day wear, and has been designed to be a "comfortable, non-disruptive fit", encouraging the user to wear it during the night.

Within the Halo's small sensor capsule 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.

According to Amazon, the device will build on the traditional trackers currently on the market by offering features which haven't been seen in mainstream wearables.

These include the ability to track a user’s emotional state by analysing the tone of their voice and a feature which provides a 3D rendering of the user's body, alongside an estimated body fat percentage.

Unlike smartwatches and fitness trackers, Amazon Halo Band doesn’t have a screen or constant notifications.

Rather, the device itself is built purely for data-gathering and will be accompanied by a Halo app – combining to provide a suite of AI-powered health features that provide actionable insights into overall wellness.

The app has five core features, designed to give customers a comprehensive understanding of their health and wellness – and the tools to take action to make measurable improvements.

Halo App's five features are:

The Activity: Informed by American Heart Association physical activity guidelines and the latest medical research, Halo will award points based on the intensity and duration of movement, not just the number of steps taken. For example, customers will earn points for walking, but will earn more points for running. A baseline goal of 150 activity points is set and measured weekly.

Sleep: Amazon Halo uses motion, heart rate, and temperature to measure time asleep and time awake; time spent in the various phases of sleep including deep, light, and REM; and skin temperature while sleeping. The sensors in the band allow for continuous sleep monitoring, so customers get detailed information without having to charge the band every day. In the morning, Halo delivers a sleep score out of 100.

Tone: Using machine learning, Tone analyzes energy and positivity in the user's voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships. For example, Tone results may reveal that a difficult work call leads to less positivity in communication with a customer’s family, an indication of the impact of stress on emotional well-being.

Labs: Amazon Halo Labs are science-backed challenges, experiments, and workouts that allow customers to discover what works best for them specifically, so they can build healthier habits. For example, users might discover that cutting out afternoon caffeine improves their sleep quality, or that a certain type of at-home workout is more effective than others. Customers can choose from labs created by Amazon as well as other brands, including 8fit, Aaptiv, Mayo Clinic, Orangetheory Fitness and P.volve.

The introduction of Amazon Halo is a major development for the wearable market. It is also seen as a departure for Amazon’s hardware business, which has previously focused on in-home devices, such as the Echo smart speakers and Fire TV streaming.

Halo will be available for an introductory price of US$64.99, which includes six months of Halo membership (regular price: US$99.99). The membership will be priced at US$3.99 per month after the initial 6 months.

The membership unlocks access to all Amazon Halo features; non-members will have access to the basics, including steps, sleep time, and heart rate.

“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,” said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, Principal Medical Officer, Amazon Halo.

"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.

“Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep.

"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.”

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Tech giant Amazon has entered the highly-contested health and fitness tracking market with a huge splash, launching an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered wearable alongside a subscription service and smartphone app.
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