Amazon faces Apple Fitbit smart bracelet app tracks sleep, assesses your voice and scans your body to calculate body fat - Amazon is taking a big step forward in the field of health with the launch of Halo, a new app and bracelet that, according to the company, can detect emotions in the voice by analyzing speech and calculate the percentage of body fat using only the camera of your smartphone.

The Halo bracelet will be launched early Thursday, meaning those interested in trying out the service will have to get an invitation.

The launch marks the biggest boost of the online retail health giant, after the company launched a virtual health clinic for employees last September and claimed to be building labs to test its workers for COVID-19. It also acquired online pharmacy PillPack in 2018 for its prescription delivery service in the United States.

Amazon is joining a saturated market, competing with companies like Apple, Samsung and Google - the latter bought the Digital Health Company Fitbit last year-among many others. Apple is currently the leader in wearable technology, according to research firm Canalys, which says the company accounts for 36.3% of global shipments of smart watches. Tim Cook, Apple'S CEO, has come to say that he thinks Apple's biggest contribution to humanity will have to do with health, according to CNBC.

But Amazon is taking a different approach to these companies. Instead of focusing on one device in itself, Amazon places Halo as a comprehensive digital health service that leverages both the mobile and the bracelet that accompanies it. The company is also delving into measurements that go beyond basic physical fitness, activity and sleep tracking, although its service also offers those measurements.

For example, Halo includes a feature that uses your smartphone's artificial intelligence and camera to perform a 3 - D body scan to calculate your body fat percentage. Also, use machine learning to draw conclusions about what your voice's tone says about your mood and energy level during conversations, using a new ability called Tone.

Amazon faces Apple Fitbit smart bracelet app tracks sleep

Amazon offers these services amid a growing concern for privacy and the size and influence not only of Amazon, but also of other large technology companies. CEO Jeff Bezos recently testified alongside the CEO of Apple, Google, and Facebook at an antitrust hearing just last month. And last year, Amazon was embroiled in a controversy over Alexa-related privacy issues and how law enforcement departments are using Ring for video surveillance.

Amazon claims that privacy is part of Halo from the beginning, and that the data on the service will never be used for advertising or other purposes.

The bracelet will cost $ 64.99 during the initial access period, a discount over its normal cost of $ 99.99. Subscription to the Halo app costs $ 3.99 per month, but Amazon offers the first six months for free during the initial access period.

Here's a closer look at Amazon Halo and how it works.

The Halo Band bracelet does not send notifications to your wrist, but is full of health tracking sensors, such as a temperature sensor, an accelerometer and a heart rate monitor. The bracelet also includes two microphones and a physical button to turn them on or off. Amazon says its battery should last a whole week on a single charge.

The app is divided into a few main sections: Activity, Sleep, Body and tone. The activity, as the name suggests, houses your activity data. Instead of just tracking calories or minutes of activity, Amazon's Halo app offers a points system.

Users earn points based on their activity, and more demanding physical activities earn more points. And instead of setting a daily target, Halo provides a weekly target of 150 points. You will also lose points if you are sedentary for a long time throughout the day.

Like many other physical activity trackers, the Halo bracelet also tracks sleep measurements, such as time spent asleep and awake and sleep phases. Since it has a temperature sensor, it can also control the temperature of the skin during sleep.

The app also includes a series of analyses, which are digital programs that help you progress towards certain wellness goals.

Halo uses Amazon's machine learning and machine vision technology to create a three-dimensional scan of your body using your phone's camera.

A deep neural network that has been trained to understand how a person's images relate to his body's properties-such as fat and muscle - analyzes the data, according to Dr. Maulik Majmudar, Amazon's Chief Medical Officer. Although it cannot actually recognize fat, the neural network examines areas where fat is normally found, such as the torso, thighs, and middle of the back.

The app can also generate models that show how your body shape could change as your body fat percentage increases or decreases. Amazon says anyone should be able to perform a body scan on the Halo app as long as they have room to be between a meter and a meter and a half away from their phone. The company also says that users should wear tight and light clothing to get the best results.

Amazon claims that this method of calculating body fat percentage is as accurate as those a doctor would use, and twice as accurate as those using smart home scales.

If you've ever wondered if you gave the impression of being nervous during the last team meeting, Amazon's Tone feature should help, according to the company. Amazon Tone uses AI to analyze the positivity and energy of your voice to help you better understand how you sound to others, the company says.

The Halo bracelet's microphones capture your voice and analyze qualities such as tone, intensity, tempo and rhythm to estimate your mood during the conversation. As shown in the image above, the app can provide a report that estimates whether you sounded positive or negative throughout the day, and even highlights relevant specific moments.

The goal of a function like this, according to Majmudar, is to help customers reflect on how they sounded in recent conversations.

You must choose the tone function to make it work by creating a voice profile. If you opt for it, Amazon says Tone will run in the background and analyze short voice samples throughout the day.

The bracelet collects voice samples, processes them within the Halo app, and then automatically erases those fragments, meaning they can't even be played by the user.

Amazon got into trouble last year after a Bloomberg report revealed that certain Amazon subcontractors had access to random recordings of Alexa, which sometimes allowed them to hear intimate moments. The alliances that Amazon's video intercom ring service has forged were also under scrutiny last year.

Amazon is far from being the only tech giant on the dock; concerns about how Facebook and Google use their users ' personal data have also increased. The Cambridge Analytica scandal on Facebook starting in 2018 ushered in a new era in which technology giants are being scrutinised as to how user information is protected, obtained, used and managed.

All of this may be enough to make Amazon and "big technology" critics very cautious about using products that analyze the image of your body and the sound of your voice.

Amazon, however, says it has built Halo with privacy in mind. Body scan images are automatically deleted from the Amazon cloud after they are processed, and such images are only stored locally on your device, unless you specifically decide to save them to the cloud.

As for Tone, Amazon says that voice samples are processed locally on the phone and then deleted after being analyzed. These voice samples are never sent to the cloud, and users can delete Tone results and their voice profile at any time.

It is also possible to turn off the function completely by turning off the microphone of the bracelet, and it will show two flashing blue lights to indicate that it is analyzing your voice.

The company has also said that Halo data will never be used for advertising purposes.

Taken together, the launch is another sign that the Giants of the technology industry continue to deepen the world of health, even at a time when there may be more skepticism about the level at which these companies permeate our lives.

It is also another sign that health technology is evolving beyond physical fitness. Just before Amazon announced Halo and its Tone feature, Fitbit unveiled a new smart watch that can measure the impact of stress on the body.

Amazon faces Apple Fitbit smart bracelet app tracks sleep

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