Amazon is coming up with a brand new way to track its users all the way to scrutinizing the tone of their voice in order to interpret emotions, and creating 3D scans of their body fat.
The device is called Halo, and is marketed as a fitness band, app, and service, whose goal is to closely monitor a user’s sleep patterns, voice, heart rate, and body fat, and prod them along with “challenges” that are supposed to help them develop a healthier lifestyle. You can think of it as an accountability coach – but operated by a massive corporation that feeds on data (all too often without any accountability of its own).
In any case, this is not a medical device, The Verge says it learned from Amazon, and doesn’t need FDA approval – in other words, there is not even minimal regulatory oversight. And Amazon would like you to never take off the Halo Band (that is used in conjunction with an app and a subscription service that provides additional features) since the screenless device has a battery that lasts an entire week, and is waterproof.
The band consists of a temperature sensor, an accelerometer, and two microphones – the report goes out of its way to point out that they are apparently not integrated with Amazon’s Echo smart speaker (“Alexa”) – possibly because of its reputation as a listening device with the tech juggernaut prone to sharing data it collects with third parties such as law enforcement.
But even if it doesn’t “speak” with Alexa, Halo does that with Android and iPhones via Bluetooth. The phone is needed for its camera, to be used to 3D scan a user’s body in order to determine their body fat.
All that’s to say that Halo, launched today as invite-only, is not without its potential controversies, other than the obvious one of giving Amazon even more of your very personal, health related data, and allowing yourself to be even more tightly “integrated” into the giant’s business.
The body fat feature might prove dangerous to people with body dysmorphic issues, the report suggests. And Amazon promises that the tracking of the tone of voice is done without sending any recordings back to the mothership.