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Amazon has announced a new Movement Health feature for its Halo fitness band. It uses a smartphone camera to analyze your posture.
To remind, the wearable was launched towards the end of last year. With a rather plain design the fitness band puts function over form. Having said that, it looks perfectly fine. But there is no screen.
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The combination of sensors inside the band tracks the fitness basics including steps, sleep, heart rate and temperature. But there are some rather odd aspects to the wearable.
The first of these comes in the form of voice tone analysis to figure out your “social and emotional wellbeing”. The other one offers body fat analysis by utilizing your smartphone’s camera. This requires you to take images of yourself with minimal clothing and upload them to the app. Of course, privacy concerns are the first thing that springs to mind, but Amazon assures us there is no reason for worry.
With this latest update the camera is getting one additional function. The wearable was already unlike anything else out there, now the functionality gets even stranger.
Dubbed Movement Health, the feature is being advertised as a tool to provide users with insights into their “functional fitness”. In English this means the smartphone app grades you on stability, mobility and posture on a scale from zero to 100. This is done for different parts of your body.
The app also spits out personalized video suggestions (5-10 minutes in length) to help you correct any problems. You are meant to do these 2-3 times per week and then retest yourself (every 2-4 weeks).
To capture a measurement you are required to go through a series of movements including single leg balances, forward lunges, overhead squats, overhead reach and foot-together squats. To an extent, this is designed to mimick movements you are likely perform as you go about your day. The app walks you through the 10 minute test and your movements are recorded with the smartphone camera.
Amazon says the analysis combines artificial intelligence, computer vision and machine learning to assess your movements. Privacy concerns are addressed by the fact that the videos are encrypted before making their way to the cloud. Also, once the algorithm has done its thing they are deleted.
We’re not really sure what to make of this latest add-on to Amazon Halo. It sounds like it could be a useful tool. How well it works in real life remains to be seen. It’s not really clear what you are being graded against. An ideal posture for one person might not be ideal for someone else. At least this feature doesn’t have the creep factor of some of the other ones!
But what is undoubtedly a good thing is the novelty aspect. There are a plethora of fitness trackers and smartwatches on the market with hardly anything to separate them. Just look at the number of Apple Watch lookalikes out there.
Amazon is thinking outside the box, so should be applauded for that. Even if we don’t necessarily agree with some of the directions it is taking its Halo fitness band.
Those interested can purchase the $99 wearable in one of three colours: black, blush and silver (check current price on Amazon). There’s also an on-going $3.99 monthly subscription.
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