The Amazon Halo fitness wearable device will give you a comprehensive insight into your health and fitness. Being the first wearable fitness device from Amazon, it’s designed differently from your standard fitness tracker. The lack of an interface makes this device a pure fitness tracker rather than a smartwatch. As such, the device offers plenty in the way of tracking your health and fitness status across several metrics, as well as in providing tools to help you improve your health.
In this article, let’s discover the benefits and features of this newest fitness device and why you may want to get one for yourself.
What Is Amazon Halo?
The Amazon Halo is a fitness tracking bracelet and heath device from Amazon. Amazon released the device two years after the release of the very first Fitbit model. Despite having physical similarities with the Apple and Fitbit smartwatches, the Amazon Halo is not a smartwatch. It doesn’t have a screen to perform typical smartwatch functions. That includes things like GPS, Wi-Fi, cellular radio, or remote call functions. And unlike the very basic smartwatch, it cannot tell the time. But the device nevertheless offers some of the features that you would expect from a fitness tracker.
The device features internal sensors, a microphone, and an accompanying app with Alexa that works together to track your health. To make the most out of this experience, you can experiment with the best Amazon Alexa commands. It can track several health metrics, including physical activity, sleep, and body fat percentage. The bracelet’s hidden sensors track your physical activity during the day. Its metrics for physical activity include the number of steps, heart rate, among others. It’s also able to track your sleep/wake cycle, so you’ll get an idea of whether you’re getting enough shut-eye or not.
Besides the usual features that you could expect from a fitness tracking program, the device can also capture 3D images of your body to calculate your body fat percentage. Amazon also outfitted the device with a microphone to listen in on your conversations throughout the day. Its purpose is to analyze your moods throughout the day.
These core features are able to produce accurate results. But they are not meant to substitute for professional medical advice. Nor are they meant to function as a substitute for professional tools used to measure the same. The company also issued a disclaimer stating that they have not sought certification from the FDA for the device.
The Amazon Halo bracelet comes with two components: a metallic nugget and a strap. The metallic nugget itself takes on a crescent moon’s shape, with a flat inner side and a curved, semi-circular outer side. The device’s inner portion contains sensors that press against the skin. Meanwhile, the device’s outer portion contains hooks to keep the device attached to the strap.
The strap also locks in place comfortably with a hook and loop fastening. The device itself is pretty light, as it should be, considering it’s meant to be worn at all times. Users also have the option to switch out the standard band for a silicone-based fitness-style band during workouts. Unfortunately, the fitness-style band is not included in the main kit, so users would have to purchase it separately.
The device is also waterproof and dust-proof, which is fitting for a device that’s meant to be worn at all times. This is complemented by an extensive battery life that can last for up to a week without a recharge. The device is waterproof for up to 50 meters, which means that it’s safe to take into the shower and mild swimming activities. And since it’s dust-resistant, users won’t have to clean the hardware at any point. While the device may be waterproof, the charging clip that comes with it isn’t waterproof at all, and users shouldn’t place them near water at any point.
The Amazon Halo band costs USD 99 per piece. This initial investment already includes a six-month subscription to accompanying data analytics. Once the six-month period expires, the subscription auto-renews with a charge of around USD 4 per month. A subscription guarantees a user full access to everything that the device has to offer. This includes everything from core tracking features to dozens of lower-profile fitness apps called “labs.” These labs often offer short-term programs designed to help you improve your health habits. Labs cover a wide variety of topics including various forms of meditation, tips to improve sleeping habits, among others.
Users who don’t want to be charged the monthly subscription fee can cancel the subscription before the free trial expires. They can also cancel at any time when the paid subscription has already taken effect. However, doing so will make the user lose access to nearly half of the offerings. That includes body fat and tone measurement, physical activity tracking, sleep tracking, and access to the labs. Amazon Halo is exclusively available on Amazon US, which means essentially that Amazon will only ship the product anywhere within the 50 states. But like most exclusive products, we expect the Amazon Halo to pop up on online resellers in other countries at some point.
The Amazon Halo offers a single-minded and minimalistic approach towards fitness tracking. The simple fact that the device doesn’t have a screen already simplifies its functions. But then again, if the device can’t interact with us directly, at the very least, it should be able to track things well. On that note, the device does track your health across four core metrics. As previously mentioned, that includes your physical activity, sleep, body tone, and body fat percentage. Each of these features is also connected to a wider pool of resources and programs. Let’s discuss some of these features.
Analyzing Your Tone
The Halo offers a unique feature that periodically listens in on your conversations with other people to assess your emotional states. According to Amazon, the Tone app should help you discover patterns in your moods across time. The device should offer insight into how people’s moods change or how certain situations affect their moods. The feature is unique to the Halo device, and it’s entirely optional. If and when you decide to set it up, special software will listen in for your voice throughout the day to analyze it. Keep in mind that for privacy purposes, the device will only pay attention to your voice and not to the voices of the people around you. Also, do note that turning on this feature will automatically activate your device each time you speak. This could drain your battery life faster than normal.
Activating the Tone feature is very simple. Just press and hold the small button on the device’s left side until a green light appears. A pop-up notification should appear, asking for permission to use your microphone. Press OK. Next, the app will read you several book quotes aloud, which you need to repeat. The recordings will help the app to recognize your voice.
You can mute and unmute the microphone throughout the day. This can be done by pressing the button on the left side of the device for three seconds. The LED light should appear red when muted and green when active. The device will analyze your speech and create colored graphs summarizing your emotional states (i.e. yellow for amused or delighted, and green for content or caring). You can view all of the results through the Tone tab of the app.
Measuring Body Fat
The Amazon Halo offers another useful feature that measures body fat percentage. The Body app first takes a 3D image of your body then analyzes it for measurements. The first part requires you to strip down to your underwear to allow the program an accurate view of the body. The Body app will also issue several visual prompts about the proper positioning of the arms and legs. After the Body app produces the image, it will be analyzed to generate estimates for body shape, average weight, and fat percentage.
But how is it possible for a wearable device to measure body fat? The answer lies in artificial intelligence (AI). The Body app is embedded with deep learning technology. Deep learning technology is a type of machine learning technology that runs on neural networks. Developers can train these neural networks to make decisions based on real-time data. In the case of Amazon, they used a sample containing tens of thousands of photos of people of different body types and from different demographics to train the neural network. When it comes to questions about accuracy, Amazon claims that it can easily match clinical tools like the Bod Pod or the energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA).
Not many people are used to taking their measurements outside the doctor’s office, much less with a camera. But setting aside all notions of awkwardness, the Body app is actually a really quick, convenient, and cost-effective way to get your body stats. On top of that, Amazon promises complete discretion and privacy, stating that none of the pictures will be kept by Amazon. As the owner of the data, you are free to do with it as you please, and you can freely delete, share, or upload the data.
Tracking Your Physical Activity
Tracking physical activity is one of the core functions of a fitness tracker, and Halo does exactly that. The app tracks your cardio fitness on a weekly basis instead of a daily basis. And like most fitness trackers, it produces a fitness score after each week. The downside to weekly tracking is that you’re not going to get information about your physical activity while in the middle of a workout. You also can’t expect to get information about your fitness over the course of a few days. You’ll only get information at the end of each week.
The Halo app automatically detects physical activities like walking or running. But for some reason, all other types of physical activity that aren’t walking or running have to be manually entered into the system. The device also features a heart monitor. This monitor can distinguish between intense, moderate, and light physical activity. Unfortunately, the heart monitor functions are still radically limited. It can’t proactively alert the user to any heart conditions, nor can it detect a fall.
If you’re wondering how the app calculates the weekly fitness score, there are two factors: the intensity of physical activity and the duration of physical activity. For example, 20 minutes of moderate activity like walking will get you fewer points than twenty minutes of running or any other form of heavy exercise. The device is also able to detect your sedentary periods. In fact, anything in excess of eight hours of inactivity will warrant a deduction from your weekly activity score. The app sets the target weekly fitness score to 150 points by default. Nevertheless, the app may increase the goal if it detects athleticism on your part.
Monitoring Sleeping Patterns
Another of the more typical but extremely vital tracking tools on the Halo is the Sleep Score. This feature measures sleep quality using different metrics like total time slept, the number of hours spent on each sleep stage, and the number of interruptions to the normal sleep cycle over the course of a week. Given these metrics, the device gives you a Sleep Score, with the highest score being 100, getting a sleep score of over 85 points to a good night’s sleep. Getting anywhere between 70 to 85 is good. Meanwhile, a score between 50 to 69 is okay. A score lower than 50 is considered poor sleep.
If we’re realistic, the sleep score is only a very rough estimate of your quality of sleep. Any person who feels tired each day despite getting the recommended amounts of sleep will certainly not in any comfort in getting a high sleep score. In spite of these risks, users will still benefit from knowing how much sleep they were able to get this past week.
The app comes with its own guide explaining how the scoring works as well as plenty of tips to get a good night’s sleep. The app can also point you in the direction of other sleep apps that can help you improve your sleep. What makes the app even better is that it can provide information about how much time you’ve spent on each sleep stage. It also provides information about the intervals you’ve spent while awake, so you can identify problem areas that interfere with your sleep.
Where the Halo Shines and Falls Short
The Amazon Halo is only the latest among a growing list of fitness-centered wearable devices. Its tone analysis feature aims to provide you with special insight into his/her daily moods. Meanwhile, the computer-vision-powered body fat measuring tool is meant to help people monitor not only their weight but also their eating habits. These are great goals to have to maintain one’s well-being. However, not everyone will be able to appreciate their value. Not everyone would want to track their moods or believe in the accuracy of an app-based weight measurement program.
That being said, the Halo really shines in sleep and activity tracking. These complement each other in monitoring both your sleeping and waking hours, and both give you crucial information that you would otherwise not be able to have. The activity tracker closely monitors your activity levels during the day and motivates you to get more exercise, while the sleep tracker closely monitors your rest periods. Both programs also offer access to a larger pool of resources to improve health and wellness.
Another praise-worthy aspect of Halo is its unobtrusive and minimalistic design. Halo does away with the unnecessary applications and heads straight to fitness tracking features. Another notable aspect would be the durability of the device. Amazon didn’t cut corners with the materials they used, and the device should resist physical damage. The combination of useful and quirky features, in addition to its discreet and durable design, makes the Halo a worthy investment.