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News, Technology, Wearables

Amazon’s Halo Fitness Band Is Capable Of Measuring Your Emotional State

Siim Pettai

Siim Pettai, Writer
@uxconnections

The new health and wellness band will compete with the Apple Watch and Google’s FitBit.

Amazon recently announced its move into healthcare with the launch of a fitness band Halo. Similarly to competitors like the Apple Watch and Google-owned FitBit, the new wearable is capable of measuring a variety of health metrics, including daily activity and sleep. 

Yet, according to Amazon, the new gadget isn’t just like any other fitness tracker. The retailing giant says Halo is capable of much more than merely tracking your steps and your sleep patterns. 

Here’s what it offers:

© Amazon

Emotional State and Tone: Halo’s first distinctive feature is that it measures your emotional state based on your tone and voice. For instance, Halo will let you know whether you sounded happy, anxious or overwhelmed when talking to different people throughout the day. The feature is supposed to help you reflect on your social situations.

For this feature to work, it is first necessary to create a voice profile inside the Halo app. This way, it is possible for Halo to recognise you when you’re talking. The feature is passive, meaning it doesn’t require any input from you at any time of the day. By simply keeping your phone in your pocket, Halo will recognise your voice and analyse how you come off in interactions with others.

Now, this feature might sound a bit too intimate and unsafe. At the end of the day, who would like each of their social interactions recorded and analysed? Amazon says not to worry, as the voice recordings never leave your device and are deleted immediately after processing. 

Body Composition: Halo is also advertised as being capable of measuring your body fat percentage based on photos. The way it works is simple. Users first have to upload several full-body selfies to the Halo app. The app then analyses the photos and creates a personalised 3D body model. Based on the model, the app then determines your body fat percentage. It is also possible to compare your body fat percentage to other people of your sex and age.

According to Amazon, body fat percentage gives you a better overview of your health than other metrics such as weight. Another popular metric, the body mass index (BMI), has been deemed as an inaccurate measure of one’s health. This is because it fails to take into account one’s bone density, muscle mass and overall body composition. 

Activity: Just like other fitness trackers, Halo tracks your steps. However, it doesn’t end there, as the wearable also tracks the intensity and duration of the steps you take. Moreover, Halo is capable of recognising whether you are walking, running or even climbing.

At the end of each day, Halo will produce an activity to score to help you become more aware of how much you move.

Sleep: Similarly to the Oura smart ring, Halo tracks and analyses the quality and quantity of your sleep. It breaks down things such as different sleep stages, how often you wake up during the night, as well as your body temperature during sleep. 

Based on comprehensive analysis, Halo will then provide you with an overall sleep score. The app will also identify patterns and recommend ways to improve your sleeping habits.

Labs: Amazon has developed a feature called Labs, which are a series of challenges and experiments developed by health experts. The challenges can be, for instance, doing extra steps to lower stress, yoga for sharpening the mind, or cooking up a heart healthy breakfast.

Users are encouraged to take part in these scientist-backed challenges to see whether they have a positive impact on their health. Based on your experience, you’ll be able to decide for yourself whether it’s a habit worth continuing.

Membership: The Halo wristband costs $99 on Amazon. The purchase includes full access to the companion app for six months. After that, the subscription costs $3.99 per month. Without the subscription, you’ll still get access to basic metrics such as sleep time, heart rate, and step tracking.

What About Privacy?

All these features sound creative, but how can we be sure our personal health data remains safe? Sharing our personal photos, and letting an app listen to our conversations can be overwhelming.

Amazon has stated, of course, that the Halo fitness band is dedicated to user privacy. According to the company, all health data is encrypted in transit, and you can download and delete your Halo data at any time.

In its privacy policy, Amazon does however state that it can collect information relating to your fitness metrics, body fat composition, demographic data, sleep, and tone of voice. Whether this is to provide shopping recommendations? We don’t know. The company merely says that the data will help them improve the Halo experience for all users.

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