Amazon’s new fitness band ‘can read your emotions’
AMAZON is taking aim at Fitbit and the Apple Watch with a wristband that can monitor body fat and read “emotions”.
The online retail giant has launched Halo, a fitness watch, along with an app that can be used for step tracking, calorie counting and fat monitoring, in its first big move into wearable gadgets.
But unlike previous devices, Halo also claims to have tools to monitor a user’s well-being using their voice, with a system called Tone. A microphone listens to the user’s tone of voice and tells them about their emotional state throughout the day.
Such voice-tracking technology may alarm some privacy-conscious customers. While Amazon and other technology companies have tried to assure customers that devices such as Alexa cannot be used for eavesdropping, last year it emerged that contractors were listening to voice clips from a range of smart speakers and voice assistants.
Amazon said Halo’s voice system deleted all clips once they had been analysed for tone.
The fitness tracker does not work with Alexa and Amazon claims it will not use health data from the app to market products or target advertising.
The Halo Band will start at $99 (£75) and the app will cost $3.99 a month.
The band connects to smartphones using Bluetooth.
Meanwhile, Apple is preparing to launch a version of its Bluetooth-based contact-tracing technology that can work without the need for a government health app.
New software, which is still being tested but is expected to be launched in September, will allow users to turn on Bluetooth contact-tracing on any iPhone. Users who have not downloaded the UK’s contact-tracing app could still benefit from the software.
Contact-tracing technology works using Bluetooth signals. Phones emit these low-energy signals and when two come into close contact (about two metres for 15 minutes) they perform a digital handshake.
If one user later has Covid symptoms, they can report it via the tracing app, which then warns other users.
But because Apple and Google’s system is built into the phones themselves it will, ultimately, be able to warn any iPhone or Android phone user with the latest software.
Apple and Google’s software will not have as many features as the Government’s new contact tracing app, which is being tested, and currently includes options on booking a test and a QR code scanner that can be used in some pubs and restaurants.