Amazon has already taken baby steps into the wearable gadget space with its Alexa-enabled Echo Buds true wireless earbuds and Echo Frames eyeglass frames. Now the company is coming after Apple and Google/Fitbit with a new health & fitness wearable called the Amazon Halo Band.
It’s a $100 wristband that’s designed to track your physical activities (including sleep), and even your tone of voice. The Halo Band is available for pre-order for $65 to members of an “Early Access” pilot, and customers will get a 6 month free subscription to a Halo Membership service which unlocks some special features. After the promotional period, you’ll have to pay $4 per month to keep your membership active.
Non-members can still use basic functionality including step counting, sleep tracking, and heart rate monitoring. But the subscription unlocks advanced features including access to “labs,” which Amazon describes as “science-backed experiments and challenges from experts like the Mayo Clinic, SWEAT, and Headspace.”
The Halo Band offers up to 7 days of battery life, features a swim-proof design that’s water resistant up to depths of 50 meters, dual microphones for Amazon’s “Tone” voice analysis features and Bluetooth 5.0 for connecting to a smartphone. You can charge the band using a USB charging clip.
Unlike a Fitbit or Apple Watch, the Halo Band does not have a screen. It’s not designed to let you see your step count or other activity stats at a glance. Instead, everything is synchronized with a smartphone app — and you’ll use your phone’s camera for some functions such as scanning your body to create a 3D model for estimating your body fat percentage.
The sensors are positioned underneath the band, and the Halo Band is available with a choice of fabric (polyster, nylon, and spandex) or silicone bands that come in three sizes and offer three color combinations (so far) including “black + onyx,” winter + silver,” and “blush + rose gold.”
It’ll be interesting to see whether there’s any real demand for an activity tracker that’s completely useless without a phone… and one which encourages you to snap photos of yourself with a camera and which can listen to your voice to gauge your “energy and positivity” levels when you’re talking to friends, family, or coworkers.
It’s not like Amazon has a perfect track record when it comes to keeping your voice recordings private.
For now, the Halo Band seems to be little more than an experiment for Amazon — you need to request early access to purchase one, and if things don’t go well over the next few years, the Halo Band may join the Echo Look and Amazon Dash buttons in the Amazon hardware graveyard. But not all of Amazon’s off-the-wall ideas turn out to be bad ones. The original Amazon Echo smart speaker was only available to folks who’d requested an invite when it first launched. And that device sparked a revolution in hands-free voice assistants, prompting Google, Apple, and many other companies to get in on the action.
The difference is that this time Amazon is entering the already pretty well-established health & fitness wearable market with a device that may challenge potential customers expectations.
@Michael D: bazillion other options staring at $15, in other words they cost $15 or more. I think the Amazon Halo is going to remain at around the $65 price point in the long run even though it’s advertised as it’s a sale price. I also predict you may get a little more functionality over time. Like you can listen to Spotify for free ad supported or pay them a monthly fee to get rid of the ads and listen to it at a higher bitrate. Similarly Amazon Music’s free tier wasn’t available initially on mobile, it arrived late last year. But I’m neither expert or connoisseur of either the music streaming or the fitness gadget product categories.
Taking also aside the ethical considerations of buying Amazon stuff and the company’s business practices, I said it’s good looking hardware. And I’m too vain to wear many of those other options ‘starting at $15’ regardless. The Amazon Halo seems to have serious sensors built into it so even considering you get only absolutely the basic functionality out of it I don’t know how it compares to all those other options ‘starting at $15.’ We’ll see. But my interest in this hardware is waiting for what hackers can possibly do with it. I’d consider something like this if my data doesn’t leave my own smartphone/server similarly as what @Some Guy suggested though I wouldn’t pay $2000 for the privilege.
Yeah, you get steps, sleep time and heart rate. Anything else, according to the press release, and what the product page says on Amazon.com, you have to pay a monthly subscription. So yeah, it’s “optional”, but if you just want those three things you can get a bazillion other options starting at around $15. If you buy this, you kinda of need to get the subscription.
In reply to @Michael D.
The monthly subscription is optional for added functionality. The basic features work without a monthly subscription.
Privacy issues aside actually I like the concept. Though Amazon and privacy in the same sentence, doesn’t add up to me. I’m curious though what hacker can do with it. Nice hardware.
I have used this activity tracker. Sound is not cleared. Sometimes its not tracked the actual data. Can you please suggest another halo band.Not safe for kids.
All the other issues aside, regarding privacy and security, who wants another product with a monthly fee in order to use it?!?! An Xiaomi Mi band will set you back considerably less initially, and has no monthly fees. Even an Apple Watch, in enough months, will be cheaper than this.
Yeah, tracking tone of voice seems a bit unsafe (unless you’re just this happy consumerist freak that just loves everything pop culture-like the kind who spends every spare dollar on funco pops).
Don’t buy this
if you have anything less than 100% trust in and approval ofever!
Not like your average smartphone can be trusted to be any better about that, but the more you explicitly let this in the more the average, well-meaning person will actually face consequences for having the wrong tone of voice at the wrong time. After all, amazon prime knows exactly what frame you’re on of whatever you’re watching at all times.
If these things ever become an indispensable accessory for medical reasons, I would gladly pay $2000 for a watch that came with some server software it syncs to every night/on command that I could run on a machine at home (or my phone), if it meant I had absolute control over this unbelievably sensitive kind of data.
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