Amazon pulls the plug on its Halo Fitness Band
Amazon has announced the end of support for its Halo Health and Fitness band from July 31, 2023. The company says it will refund all customer purchases and subscriptions made within the previous 12 months. Customers will be notified via email and will need to download any data they want to keep from the app by August 1, 2023, according to an article in Bloomberg.
A brief history of the Halo Band
The $99 wearable, which was initially available in late 2020, has a sporty design with no display and a single button for turning microphones on and off. The device measures a plethora of metrics by using various sensors such as an accelerometer, optical heart rate sensor, temperature sensor, and two microphones.
Tracking of physical activity and sleep
The Halo band tracks activity 24 hours a day, seven days a week, using a point system that deducts one point for each hour of sedentary time. Users are tasked with accumulating 150 activity points per week. This is similar to what other companies do with “rigorous activity minutes”. The accompanying smartphone app recommends science-backed challenges, experiments, and workouts.
Sleep tracking includes measuring the time it takes to fall asleep, the time spent in each sleep phase, and the temperature of the skin. Each morning, users are also given a Sleep Score, which ranks their sleep quality on a scale of 100.
Voice tone analysis and body fat analysis are two unique features
It gets more interesting, though. The Halo band’s two microphones enable some unique functionality.
This includes voice tone analysis, a feature that analyzes users’ voices to estimate social and emotional well-being. Users have to manually enable this feature and set up a voice profile within the app. The functionality is activated and works in short bursts throughout the day or during a 30-minute continuous tone analysis for important conversations. Amazon assures customers that speech samples are processed locally on their phones and then deleted.
Body fat analysis is another unusual feature that requires users to take four images of themselves wearing tight, minimal clothing. The app then generates a 3D body model, as well as a body fat estimate and scan time. This method, according to Amazon, is as accurate as doctors’ measurements and twice as accurate as smart body scales. To address privacy concerns, Amazon stated that after processing, body scan images are automatically deleted from the cloud.
Amazon’s fitness offerings’ uncertain future
While the company did not state explicitly why the fitness tracker is being discontinued, it is likely due to poor reception. The wearable has some interesting features. However it was intended as a competitor to the likes of the Apple Watch and Whoop band. But it falls short as compared to these offerings.
Amazon continues to sell the Halo View, a low-cost fitness band with a rather uninspiring set of features. It will be interesting to see if the company pulls entirely from this space.
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