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Monday, September 28, 2020

Amazon Halo: Everything You Need to Know

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Amazon has begun to compete in the health gadget sector with a new fitness band and subscription service called Halo. Distinct from the Apple Watch or even most underlying Fitbits, the Amazon Halo Band doesn’t have a screen.

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 The device comes along with an app that possesses the standard set of fitness tracking features along with two groundbreaking and feasibly troubling ideas. This includes a camera that listens for the emotion in your voice and makes 3D scans for body fat.

The absence of a screen on the Halo Band is the first marker that Amazon is trying to create a niche for itself. This inspires a little less fixation on exercise & sports, and a little more on lifestyle changes.

Alongside sleep, cardio, voice tone, and body fat tracking, Amazon Halo subscription offer access to a collection of “labs” invented by partners.

They’re small challenges modelled to improve your health habits — like starting up basic exercise routines, meditation, or improving your sleep habits.

Amazon doesn’t classify the Halo Band “as a medical device.” For example, the device hasn’t been submitted to the FDA for any sort of approval, including the lighter-touch “FDA clearance,” which has been used by other fitness bands.

Hardware

The Amazon Halo Band comprises of a sensor module and a band that clicks on its top when folded. It’s a simple theory and one we’ve seen before.

The lack of a screen display means that if you want to check the time or your steps, something else will have to be strapped to your wrist, or you can just check your phone.

The Amazon Halo Band lacks standard features such as Wi-Fi, cellular radio, or GPS. This is another sign that it is meant to be more of a tranquil tracker. It has a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, two microphones,  a button that turns the microphones on or off, a heart rate monitor, and an LED indicator light.

The microphones were not created for speaking to Alexa, and by the way, they are there for the voice tone feature to measure the user’s emotion. This simply means that Alexa features were not integrated.

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Amazon Halo Band connects to your mobile device through Bluetooth and works impartially well with both iPhones and Android phones. The three main band colors which will be sold include rose gold (pink-ish), onyx (black), and mineral (light blue).

Amazon intends for users to use the Amazon Halo Band all the time since the sensor is waterproof up to 5ATM (Amazon calls it “swim-proof”), and the battery was designed to last a full week.

The two new features which differentiate the Halo service are called Body and Tone. The former uses your Smartphone camera to acquire a 3D scan of your body and then determine your body fat.

The latter makes use of the microphone on the Amazon Halo Band to record the tone of your voice and make an account on your emotional state throughout the day.

Body scan

Body scans on the Halo Band work with just your Smartphone’s camera. The app directs you to wear tight-fitting clothing (if possible, just your underwear) and then stand back as far as six feet or so from your camera.

Then it takes four photos from different angles, which includes the front, back, and both sides. It then uploads them to Amazon’s servers, where they’re fused into a 3D scan of your body and sent back to your phone.

The data that was uploaded is then deleted from Amazon’s servers. Immediately you receive the 3D scan; Amazon uses machine learning to evaluate it and determine your body fat percentage. Amazon disagrees that either weight or body mass index is a more reliable indicator of health than body fat percentage.

Amazon also affirms its scan is more accurate than smart scales that try to measure body fat using bioelectrical impedance. Amazon also claims it may begin submitting papers to peer-reviewed medical journals in the future because it did an internal study to authenticate those claims.

Another feature the app gives is a little slider that you can flick your finger on to have it show your image either with less or more fat.

Tone or Voice Tracking

The microphone placed in the Amazon Halo Band isn’t made for voice commands; instead, it listens to your voice and makes an account on what it believes your emotional state was throughout the day. If you don’t activate the option, the microphone on the Band will be dormant and won’t do anything at all.

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Once you are opting-in for the option, the Halo app will have you read some text back to it so that it can recognise your voice. This further allows the Halo Band to only key in on your tone and not those around you.

After that, the Band will spasmodically listen to your voice and judge it on metrics like positivity, negativity, and energy of your tone. It takes into accounts the intensity, pitch, tempo, and rhythm of your voice. 

It then classifies them into “notable moments” that you can go back to analyse daily.  Some of the emotional states include keywords like elated, hopeful, bored, hesitant, happy, apologetic, confused, worried, and affectionate.

There are other features the Halo band possesses, which include:

Cost

The Halo Band will cost about $99.99, and the service (which is required to get full access to Halo’s more advanced features) costs $3.99 per month.

Presently, Amazon kicked it off as an invite-only early access program with a one-time introductory price of $64.99. This also includes six months of the service for free. The service that Halo provides is a separate product that isn’t part of Amazon Prime.

Conclusion

Overall, Halo is an inquisitive mix. Its hardware is purposely less intrusive and less feature-rich than its rivals, and its pricing policy pushes Amazon to be responsible for creating new and regular content to keep people subscribed.

Meanwhile, the body scanning feature is much more advanced than other apps indirectly digitizing your self-image, which is either appealing or disturbing based on your relationship to your self-image. The new feature of emotion tracking with Tone is completely new and more than a little weird.

Although, anybody at the age of 13 years and above can use the Amazon Halo Band. The body scan feature will only be given access to users aged 18 or older.

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Adenaya Damilola
Adenaya Damilola is a content creator and an aspiring biochemist. He is interested in music, poetry, and tech. He is also an animal lover.
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