Ama­zon’s new fit­ness band ‘can read your emo­tions’

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Matthew Field

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.

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