Amazon entered the wearable health-device market today with the release of Amazon Halo, an on-wrist health tracker with an accompanying app.
The device itself has a fabric band, is screenless and includes a compact sensor that tracks activity, temperature and heart rate. It is water-resistant and has a seven-day battery life.
The Halo app uses five health metrics designed to give users a comprehensive look at their health and wellness, and gives actionable recommendations to make improvements.
Instead of using steps as a measurement of activity, Amazon Halo awards points based on the intensity and duration of the movement. Following the American Heart Association’s recommendation that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, the device sets a baseline goal of 150 activity points measured weekly.
Amazon Halo tracks the duration and quality of user sleep with sensors that detect motion, heart rate, temperature and sleep phase. Every morning, the app generates a sleep score out of 100 and offers tips to improve the quality of sleep.
Based on recent studies that say using body mass index as an indicator of obesity has limitations, Amazon Halo uses body fat percentage (BFP) as an overall measure of health.
The app allows users to measure their BFP from their home through guided instructions for taking scan images. After taking photos from the front, back and each side, the app creates a 3D image of the body with a BFP score. It also tells users where their BFP stands in relation to people of the same sex and age, and has a slider function that illustrates how the body could change from losing or gaining body fat.
Amazon Halo goes beyond physical health by analyzing users’ voices with machine learning to help them understand how they sound to others, which could help improve communication and relationships, according to Amazon.
Once users opt-in to the Tone tool, they set a voice profile and throughout the day it will record short samples and analyze the acoustic characteristics that represent how users sound to the people around them. The app turns the analysis into daily summaries that describe how users can improve their communication.
The final feature for Amazon Halo is Labs, which are challenges, experiments and workouts that allow customers to discover what works best for them. Through third-party collaborations with companies like Weight Watchers, Headspace, Orangetheory Fitness and more, new content will be regularly added to help users build healthier habits.
The app also integrates into Cerner systems and electronic health records so users can share health information like BFP and sleep scores with their care teams.
Amazon Halo is available for preorder today in the U.S. for $64.99, which includes six months of Halo membership. The regular price is $99.99. With the Halo membership, which costs $3.99 per month, users have access to all of the Amazon Halo features, while nonmembers can only access basic features like steps, sleep time and heart rate.
WHY THIS MATTERS
In 2019, about one in five American adults wore a fitness tracker and used an app to track their health, according to a Gallup survey.
A vast majority of current fitness tracker wearers (85%) and health app users (92%) said the products are very or somewhat helpful in reaching their health goals.
Even with large numbers of people using and enjoying fitness trackers and health apps, some consumers are concerned about their data privacy in relation to these products.
Amazon Halo recognized that fear and included data security features in its products. Its privacy features include data encryption in the cloud, consumer-controlled data in the app, and the automatic deletion of body-scan images and voice recordings.
THE LARGER TREND
By joining the health wearable space, Amazon faces competition from longtime wearable creators like Fitbit, Apple, Samsung and Garmin.
Earlier this week, Fitbit unveiled a new product lineup that included a smartwatch with ECG capabilities and updates to both its Vera and Inspire lines.
Samsung released its Galaxy Watch3 in August that included regulatory clearance from the FDA for its ECG monitoring app.
Last year, Garmin released its own smartwatch with embedded GPS and all-day fitness tracking.
ON THE RECORD
“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 U.S. 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,” said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, the principal medical officer at Amazon Halo, in a statement. “Health is much more than just the number of steps you take in a day or how many hours you sleep. 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.”
“For more than 40 years, Cerner has ushered in health care’s digital age by moving medical data from paper to electronic health records. Now we are seeking breakthrough innovation focused on making the health care experience more seamless and insightful,” said Brent Shafer, chairman and CEO of Cerner, in a statement. “Integrating the revolutionary body fat percentage measurement from Amazon Halo directly into the EHR provides physicians an actionable and previously hard to obtain health metric without the need for a doctor’s visit or costly technology. We believe our collaboration with Amazon Halo has the potential to improve the health of individuals and populations, reduce health care costs, and increase satisfaction for consumers and clinicians alike.”