- Amazon introduced a wristband that can track a person's emotions as the e-commerce giant's first product in the health and wellness category. The Amazon Halo wellness tracker monitors vocal tone, physical activity, body fat, heart rate and sleep as part of a subscription service, according to an announcement.
- The Amazon Halo service includes the wearable Amazon Halo Band and an accompanying mobile app that provides a readout of health and fitness information. The app's "Tone" feature uses machine learning to analyze a wearer's voice and provide information about personal "energy and positivity."
- Subscribers to Amazon Halo can get advice on customized workouts and healthy living habits from Amazon, Harvard Health Publishing, Headspace, Orangetheory Fitness and Mayo Clinic, among other sources. The Halo Band and a six-month membership are available in the U.S. for $99.99, though Amazon is offering a promotional price of $64.99.
Amazon Halo is notable for providing a range of services not found on other fitness trackers, including the feature to analyze a person's voice to measure mood. As an example, the results from Tone's analysis may indicate that "a difficult work call" leads to tension with family members, showing how stress affects emotional well-being, per Amazon.
Wearables are a fast-growing category as more people use connected devices for a range of activities such as tracking physical activity, listening to music and making contactless payments. Global shipments of wearable devices rose 30% to 72.6 million units in Q1 from a year earlier, with growth in wristbands and earwear offsetting declines in smartwatches, per International Data Corp. research. That growth contrasts with declining shipments for smartphones, and offers technology companies a way to boost revenue in a growing product category.
Amazon Halo marks an extension of the company's efforts to offer a broader variety of wearable devices and integrate its services more seamlessly into people's lives. The e-commerce giant is the market leader in smart speakers in the U.S., and last year introduced a range of wearable products that work with its Alexa virtual assistant, giving customers access to voice-powered apps and the ability to order products with verbal commands.
Now, Amazon Halo can generate a new and steady revenue stream for Amazon. With many consumers shopping online during the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon's revenue surged 40% to $88.9 billion in Q2 from a year earlier, while its "other" category that mostly consists of advertising sales increased 41% to $4.22 billion.
The introduction of Amazon Halo is likely to have the biggest effect on Apple, the market leader for wearables with its popular Apple Watch and Air Pods headphones. Amazon Halo is less expensive than the Apple Watch, which starts at $399, though Halo requires a subscription to operate. Apple is said to be working on a subscription service for virtual fitness classes, and it's possible the service could be integrated with the Apple Watch.
Meanwhile, Fitbit sells fitness trackers for a starting price of $69.95, and last year began offering a premium subscription service for $9.99 a month or $79.99 a year. Fitbit is likely to gain more marketing muscle if Google's proposed $2.1 billion acquisition of the company receives approval from antitrust authorities.