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Amazon Halo will use your smartphone camera to assess your ‘Movement Health’

Amazon Halo will use your smartphone camera to assess your ‘Movement Health’


Amazon’s fitness service tries to measure your tone of voice, body fat, and now flexibility

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Amazon’s new Movement Health feature in Halo
Amazon’s new Movement Health feature in Halo

Soon, Amazon’s Halo fitness service will offer to use your smartphone’s camera and some cloud-based AI to create a scan of your “Movement Health.” After a five- to 10-minute session where you put yourself into different poses for the camera, Amazon’s servers will analyze the video and use it to create a customized workout routine to improve your “stability, mobility, and posture.” The service is expected to launch “in the coming weeks.”

As with Halo’s body fat scan, Amazon says that the video it records for Movement Health is sent to its cloud servers, analyzed only by its algorithms (and not humans), and is then promptly deleted both from the cloud and from your phone. The videos are encrypted in transit and when they’re (briefly) at rest in Amazon’s cloud. The Halo fitness band isn’t used in any particular way during the scan.

After the scan, you’ll get a readout like the image you see above, which breaks down the mobility of your body in terms of percentages — presumably percentages of the ideal range of movement. Njenga Kariuki, senior technical product manager for Amazon Halo, says that its machine learning algorithms were created with a diverse set of bodies:

We take a responsibility to ensure that our algorithms deliver comparable performance across demographics and body types and we extensively test different dimensions across things like body types, different ethnicity groups, a number of different demographic dimensions.

However, the result of that training is an algorithm that applies the same assessments to all users, regardless of body type or level of mobility. “The limitations we look at during the assessment are consistent across all customers,” Kariuki says. Kariuki also claims that the new tool “delivers comparable accuracy to an in-person assessment with a professional trainer.”

Amazon uses those percentages to create a “personalized program of corrective exercise videos” that are designed to improve your mobility. The company says that Halo will offer each user about five to 10 videos that will range from simple stretches to full workouts specific to their needs. So while it’s nowhere near as ambitious as Apple Fitness Plus (or even Samsung’s Smart Trainer feature), it’s not designed to be.

Halo launched last August as a combination of a $99.99 fitness band and a $3.99 / month health subscription service. It was (and is) an obvious example of Amazon’s willingness to push the envelope of what kinds of metrics people might want from their quantified self gadgets.

It offers a body fat scan that works very much like the Movement Health scan. The Halo Band can do all the typical health tracking things you’d expect from a fitness tracker (like sleep and activity), but you also have the option to leave the microphone on so it can give you its take on your tone of voice throughout the day.

Movement Health doesn’t feel quite as invasive as those assessments, but whether it’s a useful enough feature to drive users to Amazon Halo remains to be seen. Apple Fitness Plus recently began offering videos specifically designed for beginners as well as “workouts tailored for both pregnant and elderly users.” Amazon’s new offering for Halo might be a part of a larger trend of providing more approachable fitness content for people who don’t aspire to have a daily workout routine.