Amazon Takes on Health Tracking … with a Device Called Halo

Posted on August 27, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Amazon, Wearables with 24 Comments

Amazon today announced its entry into the health tracking market with a new service called Halo and a new wearable called Halo Band.

“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.,” said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, Amazon Halo’s Principal Medical Officer, said in a prepared 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. 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.”

As an Amazon device, the Halo Band is, of course, a bit curious. It looks a bit like a Fitbit fitness tracker, but without a display. It’s also inexpensive and will normally retail for $99.99. But Amazon is offering limited-time access to the Halo Band and 6 months of the Halo service for just $64.99. The subscription is normally $3.99 per month.

The key to Amazon Halo, from what I can tell, is that it works automatically. You use a smartphone app to create a 3D model of your body—an act that will frightening enough to scare off many customers—and then the device’s built-in sensors keep track of your temperature, heart rate, activity, sleep, and even the tone of your voice. It’s waterproof and can be used swimming and, Amazon says, is comfortable to wear. And, yes, there is a serious privacy component.

This is a very interesting development. I literally just ordered a Fitbit Sense smartwatch, but I’m going to try and get on the Amazon Halo early access program and check this out as well.

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Comments (24)

24 responses to “Amazon Takes on Health Tracking … with a Device Called Halo”

  1. jbinaz

    This looks really interesting - I just wish it had a screen.

    I loved my Band. The best thing about it was that I could enter my workouts, with all the various movements - weightlifting, body weight, running, and any combination, etc. - and sync it to my band. All I had to do was press a button and it would start, keeping track of my rounds, times, etc. I swear if Microsoft had partnered with CrossFit on that thing, CrossFitters (who sometimes have more money than sense) would have bought a bazillion of them.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yep. If they move forward with this platform, I assume we'll see a band with a screen followed by a smart watch.
  2. Albatross

    I just got a FitBit Charge 4 when my Ionic started acting up (3 years old). This device is interesting, but I would miss glancing at my wrist for time, steps, and heart rate.

  3. mike2k

    Fitbit versa for$150 does the job. Has a screen and no sub. I can’t fathom wearing a band that has no screen. I’ve always worn a watch. I need to look at my wrist for the time. Habits ?‍♂️

  4. crunchyfrog

    Who is this really for? It looks like a medical device your doctor would give you to wear for a weekend.

  5. GrizzlyStrong

    They are competing with a popular wearable in the Fitness world called

    Someone at Amazon has one and said we can do this or buy them

  6. richfrantz

    I'm fine with it having no screen. Can they prove it has no mic always listening?

    • Paul Thurrott

      Not sure about proof per se, but this post should help. "You can enable Tone by choosing to set up a personal voice profile within the Amazon Halo app. If you choose not to, the mics on the Amazon Halo Band remain off until and unless you create a voice profile by clicking on the Tone tile on the Halo app home page."
    • mattbg

      In reply to richfrantz:

      You can apparently opt in to the mood monitoring feature that uses the microphone, but after that all bets are off.

  7. JerryH

    Lack of screen = Lack of interest. Also subscription = no thanks. It seems like they could have had an interesting competitor to other offerings there. Some of the features are unique or at least positioned differently than competitors. But no screen and a subscription means they can keep this one.

    • jwpear

      In reply to JerryH:

      I'd take a subscription if it means the initial price is low, they're not selling my data (or give me the option to choose who the data is shared with, say, a research project), and it allows them to keep investing and improving the service. Clearly, the hardware-financed revenue is not enough to sustain long-term investment in a highly competitive landscape.

    • mattbg

      In reply to JerryH:

      If it had a screen, would you buy a subscription if they promised not to do anything with your data in exchange for the subscription fee?

  8. SvenJ

    Didn't just swipe Halo, got Band too. I imagine neither is unique enough to get a trademark on its own. I'm sure it was only MS Band that was protected.

  9. Ajay213

    I love the apparent ADD of "people" (in general, not specific to anybody as I'm just as guilty)...

    "We must take the big tech companies down a notch, too many questions about privacy, uncompetitive processes/practices..."

    "Ohhh look a shiny new doo-dad, must get it!"

    Excuse me, I have FB notifications to tend to...

  10. peterc

    Lack of screen makes this an excellent product in my opinion. Too many needy screens needing pointless attention nowadays. Bring it to the UK.

  11. jwpear

    This is almost worth getting into to explore the body composition and labs. I'm curious how Amazon's AI works with those to offer insightful adjustments to attain better health. I've always felt Fitbit, Band, and Apple Watch have been a bit of a letdown in this area. Will Amazon be better at this?

  12. mefree

    I'm pretty sure there was a Scifi show or movie where the characters wore a medical device named 'Halo' that tracked everything about them continuously and diagnosed any issues so they could be taken care of. Pretty sure that's why they used the name Halo, although a diss to MS I'm sure didn't sneak past them.

  13. drjohnnyray

    Generally, people who would be interested in this device, are people who are already healthy and active for the most part. I would find it very useful for my patients who are not so healthy and are dealing with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and sleep disorders.

    If they could upload this data to their electronic health records, that would prove to be extremely useful in this era of telemedicine and remote patient monitoring (especially if insurers would pay for it!),

  14. mattbg

    "Amazon Halo’s Principal Medical Officer"

    Nice. Apple needs one of those.

  15. tpiselli

    Does anyone trust Amazon with their health data?