Amazon's new fitness tracker will be able to analyse your emotions
Amazon Halo's voice sensor uses machine learning to analyse 'energy and positivity' in the wearer’s voice, aiming to improve communication and relationships.
Amazon is entering the health wearable business with a fitness band which listens to a person’s voice to analyse their emotions.
The device comes part of a subscription service called Amazon Halo and has no screen or notifications like other fitness trackers on the market.
It is launching in the US initially, with no word on whether it will be rolled out globally as yet.
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The tech giant says the platform uses health features powered by artificial intelligence and “multiple advanced sensors” that provide insight into overall wellness, viewable from a dedicated app.
These include an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor, two microphones, an LED indicator light, and a button to turn the microphones on or off.
Tone, as the voice sensor feature is called, uses machine learning to analyse "energy and positivity" in the wearer’s voice, allowing them to “better understand how they may sound to others, helping improve their communication and relationships”, Amazon said.
For example, Tone results may show that a difficult work call leads to less positivity in communication with family, an indication of the impact of stress on emotional wellbeing.
The firm says multiple layers of privacy and security are built into the service, capturing short samples of speech and providing insights and daily recaps.
“Speech samples are always analysed locally on the customer’s phone and automatically deleted after processing – nobody, not even the customer, ever hears them,” the firm explained.
The Body feature of the service uses computer vision technology to give an accurate body fat percentage measurement, which Amazon claims is as accurate as methods a doctor would use.
Health data is encrypted in transit and in the cloud, and customers have the ability to download or delete their data at any time within the app.
“We are using Amazon’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalised wellness habits,” said Dr Maulik Majmudar, principal medical officer for Amazon Halo.
“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.”
Currently only available to US customers, the service starts at $64.99 (£48.40) for customers who request early access, which includes six months of Halo membership – after that the membership costs $3.99 (£2.97).
The regular retail price will be $99.99 (£74.47).
Those who choose not to subscribe to the membership can continue to access basics, such as steps, sleep time, and heart rate.
According to Amazon, the battery takes less than 90 minutes to charge fully and lasts up to seven days. There are three colours to choose from, but an additional 15 colours are on offer by purchasing separate fabric or silicone accessory bands.
Amy is the Editorial Assistant at BBC Science Focus. Her BA degree specialised in science publishing and she has been working as a journalist since graduating in 2018. In 2020, Amy was named Editorial Assistant of the Year by the British Society of Magazine Editors. She looks after all things books, culture and media. Her interests range from natural history and wildlife, to women in STEM and accessibility tech.