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New Amazon health wristband gauges happiness

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Aug 28, 2020 - 08:52 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon on Thursday unveiled a wristband that goes beyond simply tracking activity to gauging how happy a person is by the sound of their voice.

Amazon Halo combines data gathered by a sensor-packed wristband with artificial intelligence tools to provide wearers with feedback regarding their physical and mental health, the internet titan said.

“Despite the rise in digital health services and devices over the last decade, we have not seen a corresponding improvement in population health in the US,” Amazon Halo’s principal medical officer Dr Maulik Majmudar said in a release.

“We are using Amazon’s deep expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning to offer customers a new way to discover, adopt, and maintain personalized wellness habits.”

People in the US were invited to request early access to Amazon Halo, which was priced at $65 and included six months’ membership access to AI-powered analytics.

Monthly cost of membership after that will be $4, according to the Seattle-based company.

Amazon Halo takes on Apple Watch and Fitbit wristwear that provide people with insights about activity levels, sleep patterns and more that could be used to make healthy lifestyle decisions.

Halo can discern intensity of activity, distinguishing walking from running, and reliably assess a wearer’s level of body fat, according to Amazon.

With the help of microphones in the wristbands, a Tone feature is designed to analyze “the positivity and energy” in someone’s voice to asses how happy, sad, tired or excited they sound, the company said.

“You might see that in the morning you sounded calm, delighted, and warm,” Majmudar said.

“Tone results may reveal that a difficult work call led to less positivity in family discussions, an indication of the impact of stress on social well-being.”

To protect privacy, speech samples are analyzed on a wearer’s smartphone — which syncs to their Halo wristband — and then deleted after the process, Majmudar said.

People can turn off Halo microphones by pressing a button on the wristband, he added.

Amazon Halo apps have been tailored for smartphones powered by Apple and Google-backed Android software, according to Amazon.

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