Amazon is entering the wearable market with its health-tracking Halo band. Note that the focus here is on health rather than exercise. Also, this isn’t really a smart band, it’s more of a wrist-worn collection of sensors.
Specifically, there’s an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor and two microphones. There’s no display here, in fact the fabric and silicone bands also cover the front of the device.
You won’t get notifications on your Halo band and you can’t use the mics to ask Alexa a question. Actually, this band is very much disconnected from other Amazon services – there’s a $4 a month subscription, which you don’t get for free with Amazon Prime, for example. While you can use the band without a subscription, you’ll lose access to the advanced features.
Halo focuses on the psychological as much as the physical. That’s what the microphones are for, they listen to the tone of your voice to determine your emotional state throughout the day. You’ll have to train the band to recognize your voice and ignore those of others.
Privacy has been baked into the product. Voice recordings are sent from the band to the phone to be analyzed and once the phone is done, it deletes them. Recordings are never sent to Amazon servers. There’s also a hardware button and a blinking red LED that allow you to mute the mics.
The other major feature is 3D body scanning, which Amazon says is more informative than the plain weight and BMI readings you might get from bathroom scales. The band doesn’t do the scanning, instead the Halo app uses your phone’s camera to take four photos.
Now those photos are uploaded to Amazon servers where AI processing turns them into a 3D model and calculate your body fat. However, this data is never shared with third parties and Amazon says it gets deleted in under 12 hours.
Once scanned, you can use a slider to get a 3D rendering of your body with more or less fat. Again, the focus here is on mental well-being, so Amazon recommends scanning yourself only once every two weeks instead of stressing about it daily. It also put sane limits on how far you can go with the slider.
Amazon sees Halo as a platform. For example, if you are a member of WW (formerly Weight Watchers), you can link your Halo account and use data from the band. Amazon ran a trial and 80% of WW members who used it, said it was a useful motivational tool.
As for the Halo itself, it costs $100 while extra bands are $16 for the silicone ones and $20 for the fabric ones. Battery life is about a week and the band is waterproof up to 50 ATM, so you don’t have to take it off aside from when it needs a charge (which takes under 90 minutes).
Currently, the company is running an Early Access program at a price of $65 for the band + a 6 months subscription, general availability will come later on. Head over to amazon.com/haloband if you want to learn more.