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Amazon's health efforts took a new turn when the e-commerce giant announced on Thursday an app-based consumer health advice service called Halo that requires its own activity tracking tape.
The service has already signed several key partners in the healthcare market, including leading data service Cerner and insurer John Hancock. Customers can now request “early access” to the service. Amazon didn't say when the service would be more widely available.
While the Halo band is superficially similar to the activity tracking bands from Fitbit, Huawei, and others, it collects more types of health data and focuses solely on improving health at the expense of other features. The band is connected to a smartphone app for data collection and analysis, but it does not have a screen and does not offer notifications, calls or other phone app connections.
The Halo-Band captures a variety of sensory data, including heart rate, skin temperature, movements, amount of sleep, and the tone of the wearer's tone. It comes in three sizes and three colors, and costs $ 65 for early attendees.
Amazon announced a new health tracking and counseling service called Halo, which has its own activity tracking band. Courtesy of Amazon
Data collected by the band is transmitted through an A.I. supported app converted into health advice on the user's phone. Early users get Premium Health Counseling Service for free for six months and then pay $ 4 per month. The band and app provide rudimentary data collection if the user chooses not to pay to continue service after six months, Amazon said.
"We are leveraging Amazon's extensive expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide a new way for customers to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits," said Dr. Maulik Majmudar, senior physician for the new service, in a statement.
The announcement comes just days after Fitbit announced its latest smartwatches and fitness bands. However, the new $ 100 Inspire 2 activity tracker differs from the Halo in having a small screen that displays phone notifications and app notifications.
John Hancock's Vitality Wellness Program is giving away Halo bands as part of its service and includes three years of free Halo app service. By connecting through Cerner, Halo users can send their health information to their doctor or other health care provider. Halo users can also link the service to their account with WW, formerly Weight Watchers.
The Halo's built-in microphone and other methods of collecting sensitive data on the device can raise questions about how much consumers trust Amazon. The company said that all data would be encrypted as it was sent and stored, users could delete their data at any time, and voice samples on the user's own phone would be analyzed and then automatically deleted. "Nobody, not even the customer, ever hears them," said Amazon.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more basic wearables sold better than fancier smartwatches. Activity tracker sales rose 16% in the second quarter, while smartwatch sales fell 7%, according to IDC.
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