Fitness bands and wearables are pretty much commonplace already that not a lot of new releases cause a stir. But when Amazon announced their Halo fitness band earlier this year, it caused quite the controversy because of a couple of features that had privacy concerns. It was available as an invite-only Early Access program, probably to test the waters. But it looks like those waters were fine as far as they’re concerned as they are now making Halo available for purchase in the U.S.
On the surface, the Halo fitness band is just like any other that’s already available in the market. What sets it apart initially is that it doesn’t have a smart display and instead focuses on movement and sound to track your steps, activity, and duration as well as logging the time that you’re mostly sedentary. It also tracks your sleep quality and offers workouts, meditations, and even challenges to help you keep fit and healthy.
The controversy comes with two of its features. Halo Body calculates the user’s body fat percentage and part of what makes it more accurate than other ways is that it requires you to upload images of yourself and you will have to wear tight-fitting underwear so that Amazon’s algorithm will be able to get a better reading. Of course, they have all the privacy things in place like encryption and all but the idea of photos of people in their underwear in a server somewhere is not good optics.
The other feature that is causing unease is Halo Tone which uses machine learning to analyze your voice through the mics on the wearable. It says it will be able to determine your energy and positivity and tell you if you sound a bit stressed or angry. You can have Halo Band do this automatically or you can also manually trigger it if you want a voice recording analyzed. Of course privacy advocates are worried about all this even though Amazon continually assures that all privacy protections are in place.
If you’re okay with either of these features and you trust Amazon to protect your data, the Halo fitness band is available now at $99.99. It comes with 6 months of Halo membership free but after that you’ll have to pay $3.99 per month to get all the full benefits and features of the wearable.