Amazon's Halo Band fitness gadget.
Amazon's Halo Band fitness gadget.

Amazon.com has introduced a wearable fitness gadget called the Halo Band, entering the market for health-monitoring devices dominated by Apple and Fitbit.

The wristband uses what Amazon describes as artificial intelligence software to monitor a range of personal-wellness metrics, from physical activity to sleep and even mood.

The device's features include 3D scans for body fat and voice-tone detection to analyse emotion. The related Halo service will come with an app, and users will be able to connect their accounts to third-party programmes to further monitor weight and health.

Amazon started a gadget business with its Kindle e-readers more than a decade ago. Today, the company is among the largest sellers of consumer electronics in the US, led by Echo smart speakers and Fire TV streaming devices. Much of that unit's activity in recent years has been geared towards expanding the domain of Alexa, the voice software that powers the Echo.

But the company was widely expected to enter the wearable devices category, a market that researcher Gartner estimated would rack up $52bn (R870bn) in sales in 2020, primarily in smartwatches.

Bloomberg reported last year that Amazon was working on a wearable device capable of recognising human emotions.

“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,” said Maulik Majmudar, principal medical officer for Amazon Halo.

Majmudar said Amazon seeks to use its expertise in software designed to detect and analyse patterns to help people learn and maintain better habits.

The company is offering invitation-only early access to the Halo — which began on Thursday — with an introductory price of $64.99 that includes six months of the service for free.

In recent years Amazon has launched new devices at press events held in September. With the Covid-19 pandemic making many in-person events impossible, it hasn't announced plans for a similar showcase this year.

Bloomberg

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