AMAZON ENTERS WEARABLES MARKET WITH “HALO”
The innovative wearable from Amazon can profile body fat and analyze the tone of your voice!
Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) is taking the plunge into the wearables market sector with the introduction of “Halo”. It will be competing with Apple Watch, Garmin, Google Fitbit and other contenders in the fitness tracker and wearable healthcare consumer technology categories. The price consumers will pay to play with Halo? Initial prices shared by Amazon reveal a $99.99 purchase price plus $3.99 per month for premium services.
Halo has already differentiated itself from competitors
Unlike the other wearables in the market, Halo doesn’t feature a screen nor does it feature cellular radio, GPS or Wi-Fi. Moving on from those gaps it does offer the usual wearable monitoring features that align with exercise, sleep, various vital signs like cardio and temperature. It also features an LED light.
Two very novel features set it apart from other wearables. A Halo user can use their cell phone camera to produce a 3D scan of their physique for body fat monitoring. Plus, there are two tiny microphones to support the app that monitors speech and analyzes emotional tones. Surprisingly, there is no connectivity to the Alexa platform. Bluetooth enables transmission of data and integration of application functions to other devices; Halo will operate effectively with Android phones or iPhones.
How “wearable” is the Halo?
The core Halo unit is essentially a sensor module without a screen accompanied by a band that snaps into it from the top. For now, the bands come in 3 colors (black, light blue and soft pink) and it’s certain more colors and styles are on the way. Amazon says the battery will last a week and that the sensor module is water-resistant up to 5ATM.
How clinical is Halo?
It is not a medical device, at least not in its present configuration, like the Verily Life Sciences (Alphabet/Google) Study Watch. The FDA has not reviewed it. If Amazon intends to go in the direction of an FDA-approved medical device indication with Halo it has a ways to go but it’s off to a good start. Privacy is critical in all aspects of healthcare data when it comes to body mass, vital signs monitoring, emotional wellness, usage patterns, etc. especially when it is being used for medical purposes and the information is being shared between a patient and a healthcare professional. The firewall between the features of the Halo device and its applications from the rest of the user’s smartphone in terms of data access, security and sharing would have to be fool-proof.
In terms of emotional wellness, the voice analyzer has some interesting aspects for behavioral healthcare. Its results could be tied to the various vital signs (heart rate, pulse, etc.) for further insights. The feature is definitely novel and it will be intriguing to see Amazon and its app partners enhance its capability clinically and commercially.
The body fat analyzer could definitely be a strong motivator for many. Those individuals seeking affirmation for healthier living and exercise can have Halo confirm their progress by updating their body scans on a periodic basis. Users will not only get the numbers but have the rewarding feeling that Halo (and everyone else!) “sees” the weight that has been lost.
EHR giant Cerner is collaborating with Amazon on Halo
Cerner (NASDAQ: CERN) and Amazon have already entered into an agreement that would enable consumers to share their personal Halo data with their healthcare providers. Consumers can choose to connect to Cerner’s EHR data application and share activity, body fat percentage, sleep plus other healthcare wellness data with the medical professionals that care for them. Getting buy-in from Cerner at such an early stage is a major plus for Amazon to build on from a technology and marketing perspective.
For those hospitals, health systems, medical groups and other healthcare provider organizations that utilize Cerner EHR applications and agree to support the Halo technology and consumer data, this can extend patient support and perhaps lead to another revenue stream? San Diego, California based Sharp Healthcare is the first health system to join the Cerner and Amazon Halo initiative.
Amazon is partnering with other companies to further amp up the features of the Halo wearable
The $3.99 monthly subscription will provide Halo users to access various health and wellness applications. These include exercise routines, meditation, sleep and other programs. Undoubtedly Amazon can cultivate ongoing marketing buzz for Halo as new applications are introduced to it. Looking ahead the Halo is the throwdown challenge Amazon is making to the wearables market.
It’s anyone’s guess what their immediate and long-term strategy is but for now the body fat and voice tone analyzer features will have other wearable manufacturers scrambling to develop countermeasures to them and of course one-up Amazon with other innovative features. Their first point-of-attack will likely be the novelty (positioned by competitors as a weakness) of the Halo not having a display and thus not able to provide immediate conveniences to users.
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