Aug 31, 2020
Amazon.com last week introduced Halo, a combination fitness tracker, app and subscription service. The device will take on Fitbit, which is being acquired by Google, Apple Watch and others while possibly building on Amazon’s ambitions in the healthcare space.
The AI-enabled wristband tracks activity and sleep basics like many wearables but goes beyond by being able to estimate body fat percentage via a smartphone camera. The “Tone” feature tracks emotional state by listening to the user’s voice, enabling insights into “energy and positivity.”
Unlike Apple Watch or Fitbit, however, the Amazon Halo Band doesn’t have a screen, forcing the user to head to the companion app to see their health metrics and gain access to “challenges, experiments, and workouts” offered through the Halo subscription.
A range of exercise routines, meditation practices and tips on improving sleep and other fitness habits are provided by 8fit, Harvard Health Publishing, Mayo Clinic, Orangetheory and others.
“Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep,” said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, principal medical officer, Amazon Halo, in a statement. “Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the Halo Band sensors, and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness.”
Amazon will make the device and subscription available at an initial invitation-only rate of $64.99 before raising its regular price to $99.99.
The Halo was built with “privacy in mind,” the company claims, with health data “encrypted in transit and in the cloud,” and body scans and voice data automatically deleted after they’re processed. The company says the device has no ties so far to Alexa or Amazon Prime.
Amazon has largely focused on in-home devices such as its Echo smart speakers and Fire TV. Last year, the company experienced disappointing launches with its wireless earbuds, finger rings and prescription eyeglasses with Alexa built-in.
No mention is made in Amazon’s release of its other health ventures, such as the purchase of online pharmacy, PillPack, a healthcare joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway nor the recent opening of employee health clinics.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you think Amazon is moving into the fitness tracker space? Do you see a bigger potential benefit to its core online marketplace or the company’s health care ambitions?
“At its core, Amazon is a data company, collecting and using customer data so it can be more effective at selling products.”