Amazon’s new Halo Band movement health score looks half-baked


Illustration for article titled Amazon Should Rethink Its Half-Baked Approach to Health Tracking

Picture: Amazon

Amazon’s Halo group, the company‘s first fitness tracker, drew criticism when it launched because of its two main characteristics: the analysis of body fat and the analysis of tone. Sall reviews including by Gizmodo– description of the gadget as sinister and intrusive. You might think that maybe this would lead Amazon to rethinks about his approach to health technology. Instead, Amazon doubles with a new feature who uses your smartphone’s camera to assess your “Movement health”.

Movement Health supposedly uses artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning to analyze your functional fitness, or how your body handles movements that can help you with everyday tasks.bend down to pick up groceries, lift a child, or move a stack of dishes from a cabinet to the counter. Trying to help people maintain some functional fitness is a noble and good goal. I’m just not sure Amazon really thought through all of this.

Here is how it works: TThe Halo app will walk a user through an approximately 10-minute assessment involving one-leg balances, front lunges, aerial squats, aerial lifts, and foot squats together. The app gives you one score out of 100 and one distribution of your results in terms of stability, mobility and posture in different areas of your body. After that, the service will recommend 5-10 minutes guided remedial exercise videos to help you improve your weak points. The idea is to do these short workouts at least three times a week and repeat the test every 2-4 weeks.

Because this is Amazon, the announcement blog also penetrates the intimacy. Your evaluation videos are encrypted, sent to the cloud, and then deleted once they have been executed by the algorithm.

This feature isn’t as scary or problematic as analyzing body fat or checking tone. The concept isn’t new either – there are a handful of fitness apps that claim to analyze your form. On the surface I can see how anyone would think this is really helpful. But as part of the whole Halo experience, it’s a bit half-baked.

Amazon said the edge that although the algorithms have been trained on a diverse set of bodies, you are in fact being evaluated against a nebulous and uniform ideal that may not really reflect what is actually best for your specific needs, goals and abilities. All that does is leave you with a technically impressive feature that absolutely erases the context of the relationship between movement health scores and your overall health. What is the incentive to do these exercises? To improve your Amazon Halo Movement Health score because it could mean you’ve corrected your … body stability? And does that mean you might have an easier time lifting heavy objects? Even if what you really want is a whole different health or fitness goal?

Illustration for article titled Amazon Should Rethink Its Half-Baked Approach to Health Tracking

Picture: Amazon

It’s not that this feature is necessarily bad. Iit’s not even still live, it is therefore impossible to assess its effectiveness at the moment. But who is it for exactly? Does anyone walk around thinking, “Oh my God, shopping for groceries has become difficult lately. Let me pick up my phone so it can tell me on a scale of 1 to 100 how good my left shoulder mobility is so I know exactly what 10 minute exercises to do to fix this problem.

More likely, you would be thinking to yourself, “Wow, I have noodle arms. I want to change this. Let me look for ways to strengthen my upper body. Or maybe you just get one those rolling grocery carts and call it a day.

This is the puzzling thing here. Amazon Halo is purposely simplistic in design – the band doesn’t even have a screen, and its basic activity tracker isn’t particularly informative. And even its renowned features are over-designed to solve problems that don’t really exist in troubling and invasive ways. They’re also all weirdly obsessed with judging you based on ill-defined standards. It’s almost like the whole point of this whole platform is to show off Amazon’s technological strengths and half-heartedly claim in the clothing market. instead of helping people achieve their health and fitness goals.


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