Amazon enters market for fitness trackers with Halo band and app

The e-commerce giant has launched the service at an introductory price of $64.99 which includes a six-month subscription

E-commerce company Amazon entered the wearable fitness tracker market with a new paid subscription service called Amazon Halo.

The company will offer a Halo wristband that will connect to an app on a user’s smartphone through Bluetooth. The wristband contains sensors that monitor physical health and mental wellbeing.

“Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep,” said Maulik Majmudar, a cardiologist and principal medical officer at Amazon Halo.

“Amazon Halo combines the latest medical science, highly accurate data via the band sensors and cutting-edge artificial intelligence to offer a more comprehensive approach to improving your health and wellness.”

Unlike other smartwatches and fitness trackers, Amazon’s Halo band does not have a screen. However, it does contain an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart-rate monitor, two microphones and a button to turn the microphones on or off.

The microphones are not for communicating with other people but for capturing a user's emotional state from the tone of their voice.

The tone is analysed using machine learning technology to detect levels of energy and positivity, the company said.

“Using tone to reflect on your interactions can help build connections or identify patterns so you can consciously make improvements,” said Mr Majmudar.

For example, results may reveal that a difficult work call led to less positivity in family discussions, an indication of the impact of stress on well-being, he said.

Another features uses a smartphone camera to capture a 3D scan of a user’s body and then compute the level of fat.

The market for fitness trackers is growing at a compound rate of 15.2 per cent per year, according to research published earlier this month by Fortune Business Insights. It projects that the size of the market will grow to about $92 billion (Dh337.9bn) by 2027, up from $30.41bn last year.

Several layers of privacy and security are built into the Amazon’s service to keep the data of users safe and under their control, the company said.

“Health data is encrypted in transit and in the cloud and customers can download or delete their data at any time directly from the app. Body-scan images are automatically deleted from the cloud after processing, so only the customer sees them,” Amazon said.

The company said Amazon Halo was launched as an invite-only, early-access programme in the US, at a price of $64.99 for the device, which includes a membership fee for six months.

After that, the band will cost $99.99 and the membership, which is needed to gain access to more advanced features, will cost $3.99 a month. The service will then be introduced in other markets gradually, the company said.