Amazon Targets Health and Wellness Market With New Fitness Technology

By Jemima McEvoy Friday, August 28, 2020

Amazon has officially entered the health and wellness market. Extending its already massive influence, the tech giant announced on Thursday that it would explore otherwise unchartered territory with a new venture: Amazon Halo.

Amazon app on a smartphone.

According to a press release, the Amazon Halo is a wristband for health and fitness tracking, which will launch alongside a subscription service and smartphone app. Amazon, however, is seeking to differentiate itself from existing competitors by doing something with Halo that other products on the market have not yet done.

“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. “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.”

The fitness technology will have several unique features built-in that, as of now, are only accessible through Amazon Halo. For example, the artificial intelligence-powered device has a tracking feature that monitors a user’s emotional state by listening to the tone of their voice. It will also produce 3D imaging of a user’s body to calculate body fat percentage. The Amazon Halo also offers a more comprehensive approach to tracking activity and sleep, encouraging a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, and boasts third-party app integration.

Physically, the screen will also look different from other products on the market. There will be no screen or notifications. Instead, a small sensor capsule will capture data and includes an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor, microphones, and numerous other functions. The device is waterproof and fit for all-day wear, with a battery that can fully charge in under 90 minutes and lasts up to a week. Plus, customers can pick which color they want for their Amazon Halo from a swatch of three fabric brands and 15 additional accessory bands in different colors.

“The American Heart Association is excited about technology that focuses on new and interesting ways for people to improve their cardiovascular health, quality of life, and healthy life years. We’re thrilled to see companies like Amazon innovating in this space,” said Eduardo Sanchez, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer for Prevention, American Heart Association.

The product has been in the works for several years as Amazon has long been looking to enter the $3.5 trillion healthcare market, now finding its way into the profitable niche of fitness tech. Amazon is facing stiff competition, though, as the market—with an estimated worth of $50 billion in 2020—is comfortably dominated by Apple Watch and Fitbit.

The announcement of some of Halo’s more involved features, such as the emotion tracker, has raised questions over privacy. Amazon attempted to address concerns over the company’s collection and usage of data in the product roll-out, emphasizing how “privacy is foundational to Amazon Halo, and multiple layers of privacy and security are built into the service to keep data safe and in the customers’ control.” Health data will be encrypted, says Amazon, explaining that customers can download or delete their data directly from the app anytime. The app will also automatically delete body scan images after processing, so only the customer will see them. The same is true of the voice samples collected for the tone tracker. “Speech samples are always analyzed locally on the customer’s phone and automatically deleted after processing—nobody, not even the customer, ever hears them,” reads the press release.

US customers can request early access to the Amazon Halo, as of August 27. During the early access period, the Amazon Halo will be available for a reduced price of $64.99 with six months of Halo membership. The regular price for the fitness tracking device is $99.99. Additionally, membership automatically renews for $3.99 per month after the initial six-month period. The membership is required to unlock many of Amazon Halo’s features, although non-members will be able to access the basics, including steps, sleep time, and heart rate.

About the Author

Headshot for Jemima McEvoy

Jemima is a journalist who enjoys reporting on business, particularly small business and entrepreneurship.

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