A few years back at CES, I attempted to cover the emerging wearable market, and there was a slew of them. Yet today, years later, Apple’s watch and Googles Fitbit continue to dominate. Gartner estimates this year – that market will be worth $52 billion.
Guess who else wants to play in the wearable sandbox?
This week, Amazon released Halo by invitation only. Halo is a fitness tracker that wants to become your personal coach, a be a bit too intimate. This adjustable wristband has no watch face but does have ears (well, a microphone). It pairs with the app by the same name, which sends push notifications wanting you to live your best life.
Here is what Halo is offering…
Fitness: Halo does not just track your steps, but the type of steps you take. According to Amazon, the device can tell when you are walking, running, or climbing and awards you points instead of how far you’ve gonelike a video game.
Sleep: Not only will Halo tell you about the quality and quantity of sleep but will then provide advice on how to make that time in bed better spent.
Body Composition: “Weight isn’t the best measure of physical health because it can be made of all sorts of stuff,” Amazon says. Using the App, you take body scans using your camera to give you a better idea of your health than BMI or weight alone. But do not worry, after these photos are processed, Amazon deletes them automatically from the cloud. From there, a personalized 3D model allows you to track progress over time. Amazon claims this is twice as accurate as your home scale, allowing you to focus on your health and not just a number.
The question is, do you trust Amazon with this private information? The scale is an analog way to track our health, and has been for years, but are we ready to upload pictures of ourselves almost naked to get to the next level of fitness?
Tone Feature: This may be a first in wearables. We all know and understand your social life plays a vital role in your stress level. We are aware that a bad work call can cause anxiety. For this reason, Halo analyzes the tone of your voice throughout the day. (So, the robots will teach us how to speak moving forward?)
Halo’s team wants to make sure what comes out of your mouth matches what comes from your heart. But not to worry, assures the tech giant – remember there is extra security built-in. Now those private meetings will be just between you, another person, and Halo.
Labs: Labs are challenges and experiments developed by experts, like walking while you talk on the phone to get in extra steps or sleeping better at night by taking fewer naps during the day. Amazon has partnered with other specialists to bring you tips and tricks and ways to improve your wellbeing.
Membership: Your Halo purchase ($99) will include full access for the first six months and then $3.99 per month after that. The price is not too steep, but it’s still another fee added on to all the monthly payments you already have in your life. Will it be worth it?
According to Amazon, one will still retain access to their basic sleep time, heart rate, and step tracking without keeping your membership.
While I like that this wearable has a different offering and creative approach to track health, the concern over privacy and uploading personal photos and the idea of a data-mining company listening to my life, gives me pause. That being said, if I am completely honest with myself, I have already added Alexa to my home – in my kitchen and even in my bedroom. So, is adding Halo to my wrist really crossing a line, or just the next logical step?