Fascinating review of Amazon Halo

Fascinating. I think this review of Amazon Halo is worth a read. Lots to think about here about data privacy, personalization, information sharing, and much more.


AMAZON’S NEW HEALTH tracker, the Halo, is a small, display-free device fitted into a fabric band that you wear on your wrist. Unlike many fitness trackers that simply count your steps, the Halo collects additional health data that is shockingly intimate. Most notably, the app analyzes pictures of you in your undies to measure your body fat percentage. Also, the Halo’s microphone records snippets of your conversations to interpret the emotions conveyed in the tone of your speaking voice.

I’ve worn the Halo for a month, and it lacks a lot of features I’d want in a fitness tracker, like GPS for tracking your runs. In fact, I’ve also found that most of the data the Halo does analyze doesn’t seem worth the hassle of collecting it. I’m not sure it’s a great idea for any company, let alone Amazon, to normalize the process of full-body strip-down scans for its customers.

I’m not the only one who thinks so; the requests for underwear photos and the on-device mic have raised many privacy concerns. Despite these complaints, the Halo’s voice-tone tracking feature intrigued me. I wore the wristband through a stressful pandemic holiday with two small children. After two weeks with my nuclear family in the claustrophobic confines of our home without childcare help, parties, or any rest, the Halo began registering voice tones it flagged as increasingly irritable. It made me wonder … if I actually am getting irritable, what the heck am I supposed to do with this data? I decided to find out.

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