E-commerce giant Amazon has announced the launch of Amazon Halo, a health and wellness tracker that the company claims can track its users’ emotions by listening to the tone of their voice.
The Wall Street Journal reports that e-commerce giant Amazon has announced its latest product, Amazon Halo, a health and wellness tracker which Amazon claims can analyze a user’s voice to track their emotions. The wristband can also track body-fat percentage, heart rate, and it’s users’ activity and sleep.
The product marks Amazon’s first foray into the health and wellness industry and will be available for early order in the United States now. Amazon claims that it can monitor users’ social and emotional well-being under the “Tone” feature by analyzing a user’s voice, offering insights into their “energy and positivity.”
The Halo bands companion app will also suggest workouts an healthy habits for users, supported by content from both Amazon, 8fit, Harvard Health Publishing, Mayo Clinic, and other groups. Amazon claims that the HaloBand’s battery lasts up to seven days and can be fully charged in under 90 minutes.
Amazon is offering the Halo Band and six months of Halo membership for an early access price of $64.99, before increasing it to its regular retail price of $99.99. The membership renews for $3.99 a month after the first six months.
Amazon has previously faced scrutiny over it’s other user-focused devices such as its smart home assistant Amazon Alexa. In January, the MIT Technology Review reported that Amazon Alexa home assistant devices are listening in on people’s conversations, a theory that has been around for some time but has never been confirmed.
The MIT Technology Review reports:
Beyond all the things I’ve clearly asked Alexa to do, in the past several months it has also tuned in, frequently several times a day, for no obvious reason. It’s heard me complain to my dad about something work-related, chide my toddler about eating dinner, and talk to my husband—the kinds of normal, everyday things you say at home when you think no one else is listening.
And that’s precisely why it’s terrifying: this sort of mundane chitchat is my mundane chitchat. I invited Alexa into our living room to make it easier to listen to Pandora and occasionally check the weather, not to keep a log of intimate family details or record my kid saying “Mommy, we going car” and forward it to Amazon’s cloud storage.
The MIT Technology Review notes that constant recording is one of the unfortunate downsides of home assistants that constantly listen for wake words such as “Alexa!” or “Hey, Siri!”
Through 2019, Amazon faced continual bad news about its Alexa-powered devices on the subject of user privacy and security. Reports were published showing that Amazon employees and contractors located in India, Costa Rica, and Romania had ready access to users’ recordings and spent nine hours a day listening to the snippets.
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