Forget steps — Amazon claims it can track your emotions with its new “wearable” artificial intelligence.
With Thursday’s announcement of its Halo Band and app, the online megastore appears geared up to offer some serious health-and-wellness competition to market leaders Apple Watch and Fitbit.
The new Amazon Halo app and Halo Band for $99.99 combines a suite of AI-powered health features geared to “provide actionable insights into overall wellness.” US customers can request early access, starting today, with the Amazon Halo Band and six months of membership available for $64.99. The membership unlocks access to all features (non-members get the basics: step count, sleep time, heart rate) and automatically renews for $3.99 per month after the initial six months.
“Despite the rise in digital health services and devices over the last decade, we have not seen a corresponding improvement in population health in the US,” said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, Amazon Halo’s principal medical officer, in a statement. “We are using Amazon’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits.”
The company said by monitoring the tone of a wearer’s voice and sleep patterns they can accurately assess “social and emotional well-being” and suggest tools for making “measurable” improvements. “The innovative Tone feature uses machine learning to analyze energy and positivity in a customer’s voice so they can better understand how they may sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships,” a press release hypes.
Majmudar also went on to make what could be viewed as a little jab at Fitbit.
“Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep,” the doc said. “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 first showed off some “wearable” devices at its annual hardware event last fall — but not the Halo, CNBC reported, dubbing Thursday’s new release the company’s first real shot at seizing a chunk of the fast-growing market, which Gartner watchdogs estimate will top $50 billion in 2020.
Unlike other smartwatches and fitness trackers, the water-resistant Halo Band — available in three fabric band colors and 15 silicone “sport accessory” colors, for $15.99 to $19.99 — doesn’t have a screen or constant notifications. A small sensor capsule delivers data using a temperature sensor, heart-rate monitor, two microphones, an LED indicator light and a button to turn the microphones on or off, among other functions.
Although all this talk of AI and emotions might sound a little “woo-woo,” it’s garnering some early buy-in from established health authorities. Amazon Halo Labs are billed as “science-backed challenges, experiments, and workouts that allow customers to discover what works best for them specifically, so they can build healthier habits.”
Customers can choose from labs created by Amazon Halo experts, as well as brands and personalities they already know, including the American Heart Association, Harvard Health Publishing, Mayo Clinic and Weight Watchers (WW), to name just a few.
“[We are] excited about technology that focuses on new and interesting ways for people to improve their cardiovascular health, quality of life and healthy life years,” said Dr. Eduardo Sanchez, chief medical officer for prevention at the American Heart Association. “The association is committed to helping people live longer, healthier lives — both physically and mentally. The first step is knowing your current status.”