It was only a matter of time before Amazon released their own fitness tracking device. I mean, it is a real gold mine right now for companies to offer ways to help people sleep better, drink more, eat better, exercise more, move more, track their heart health, and more. Now more than ever, people have their eyes on their health and Amazon has now made the move to help the user track all of that – and then some.
The New Amazon Halo – A Fitness Tracking Device with Some Odd Features
Link: The Amazon Halo – Starting at $64 (only available through Early Access – this is an affiliate link)
Amazon already has a full suite of smart devices to run your home, security, shopping experiences – pretty much just running your life (or helping you run it). They have the Echo Loop smart ring (still only available for invitation only) but it does not provide fitness tracking. This is where the Amazon Halo device and software come into play.
This is a very different health and fitness tracking device in one big way – there is no screen on the wearable. That’s right, you cannot even see the time with a flick of your wrist or otherwise. Amazon clearly wants you to focus on the app for all that information with the wearable band just being the conduit for tracking your health and fitness. Also, it is one of the cheapest devices around at just $64 launch price, but you will need to pay $3.99 for the membership app that really brings all of the features alive.
And track it will – from sleep and activity levels, which are the bread and butter of fitness trackers, to things like stress levels from your voice and even measuring your body fat composition.
It is those last two features that I find to be a bit on the creepy side and may turn people away from the Amazon Halo experience. Little hint – both have to do with privacy.
The “Tone” Feature
In a new smart device effort to capture your stress level and help you to know when you should back down, Amazon Halo has something called “Tone”. It uses voice analysis to check your stress levels and see how you are responding to various people. This actually does sound like something that could be useful for some people as it would give an indication as to which types of conversations or situations are causing more stress and help them to go into those future situations better prepared.
As for privacy, Amazon does say that the voice captures used by Tone will only be analyzed in the app and are never sent to the cloud. Furthermore, once it is analyzed, it is deleted and the Tone feature can only be accessed after it is opted-in by the customer. By default, it is not set up to work out of the box – it must have the user opt-in.
Here it is in Amazon’s words:
“We only move data when absolutely necessary, and we process it as close to the source as possible. For example, Tone speech samples are processed right on your phone and then automatically deleted—they never go to the cloud, and no one ever hears them.”
Still, with various Alexa incidents that have happened over the years with people realizing that Alexa was listening when they thought she wasn’t or even that their conversation had been sent to their contacts without their knowledge, there will likely be many people that will not opt-in for Tone out of concern. Is that concern warranted? If Amazon stays true to their word that the voice samples are deleted and never sent to the cloud, then I think it would be ok.
While smart devices are all over our homes and lives, I think there are still many people that would rather certain devices not be listening to them all the time.
Body Fat Composition
Here is the one that may have many people say, “wait, WHAT?!” Amazon says this new feature of the Halo software is something that is more accurate than many other methods of finding your body fat. Let’s let Amazon explain how this feature works.
“Your body scan images are what Halo uses to analyze your body fat percentage and help you track your progress over time.
You create a body scan image by taking a series of photos using your smartphone’s camera. It takes less than a minute and the app guides you through the entire process.
Your images are then sent to the cloud where they are processed and turned into a personalized 3D body model. This 3D model is sent back to your phone and displayed in the app, along with your body fat percentage. A slider tool helps you visualize how your body may change as your body fat increases or decreases.”
So, users need to have their smartphone automatically take a series of photos with you standing partially nude. These photos are then sent to the cloud to be processed. Amazon says these images are deleted immediately from the cloud, unless the user chooses to have backups saved in the cloud.
While Amazon’s explanation of the instant wipe off the cloud part may help some, I think there are going to be a whole lot of people that will not feel comfortable having an app take partially nude photos and then uploading them to the cloud – even if it is for just a moment. I am with you on that!
But, Amazon takes effort to let users know that these photos would be private on your phone unless you wish to share them. They will not even be available on your phone’s camera roll unless you save them from the app to the phone.
If customers feel comfortable with things like voice sampling/capturing and body scans, the new Amazon Halo could be a really helpful health tracking device. But, if you do not want those features, then it is just another tracking device, although without a screen.
With this being Amazon, I find it hard to believe that they are not using all of this information to target their customers with more targeted products. I mean, how targeted could it be for Amazon to show you the exact kind of clothes that fit your body type from your body scans? Or how about offering your certain products to help you destress based on how you talked to a colleague today? I have to imagine that Amazon will find a way to pitch this to customers – someday!
Would you feel comfortable utilizing these two features or no?