Before a wave of layoffs led to the shutdown of Amazon’s Halo division, the team behind those products had developed ambitious, long-term plans to better compete in fitness and health. Through discussions with current and former Amazon employees, The Verge has learned that Amazon had a road map for Halo that included a sophisticated, AI-based fitness training service, celebrity-led exercise classes, and more.
Amazon’s Halo brand debuted less than three years ago and introduced mass-market health and wellness gadgets designed to square off against Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, Garmin, and other rivals. First came the distraction-free Halo Band, then the Fitbit-like Halo View, and most recently, the Halo Rise smart lamp. But after piddling sales, last week Amazon abruptly exited the Halo business, stopped offering all three devices, and announced that existing units would cease functioning this summer.
- Amazon Halo View review: the Fitbit clone no one asked for
For some customers, the news felt abrupt. As recently as March, Planet Fitness was still partnering with Amazon to distribute free Halo View fitness trackers to qualifying gym members. Employees were caught off guard, too: they’d been working toward the biggest expansion of Halo yet. Later this year, Amazon was planning to introduce an overhauled Halo Digital subscription service. It was set to include an advanced, AI-powered fitness trainer and celebrity-led fitness classes. The company had also decided to branch out and support the Apple Watch with its upcoming software.
None of that will be happening now. In an internal email viewed by The Verge, Amazon said it was abandoning the category due to “significant headwinds, including an increasingly crowded segment and an uncertain economic environment.”
But until recently, and even amid underwhelming hardware sales, it seemed like Amazon was still determined to push onward. The foundation of the plan was a revamped Halo mobile application with deeper personalization and more powerful workout tools. The Verge has obtained internal mock-ups of this now-canceled Halo software update.
In a coincidental bit of timing, Bloomberg just recently reported that Apple is developing an AI-based health coaching service that’s meant to keep users motivated as they pursue exercise, diet, and sleep goals. That paid offering, codenamed Quartz, could make its way to consumers in 2024.
It turns out Amazon was working on a similar concept for Halo before everything went sideways. Codenamed Donna, the project was to include a “Halo AI Trainer” that would use computer vision to assess a user’s workouts and monitor their progress — an approach that some fitness apps have already attempted.
Similar to Apple and other competitors, Halo Fitness courses already had the ability to display real-time metrics such as heart rate and intensity zones, but the app couldn’t analyze movement or ensure you were performing exercises correctly. That’s where computer vision (and your phone’s built-in camera) would come in. “Trainers will lead these workouts, but unlike traditional Halo Fitness workouts, check-ins are computer vision enabled and add form tracking, rep counting, and detailed performance metrics in the post-workout summary,” an internal Amazon document reads.
Some Amazon employees were less than impressed with the AI trainer’s camera vision
But within the company, early beta feedback about the AI trainer’s performance was not overly positive, and even Amazon’s own employees expressed pause over having a camera analyzing them and sharing data with Amazon during workout routines.
Halo Digital was tentatively scheduled to launch at Amazon’s fall 2023 showcase for a price of $7.99 per month. Perhaps realizing that Halo’s original points-based activity tracking wasn’t as enticing as the awards and praise offered by Apple and Samsung, Amazon intended to bring more gamification opportunities to the service by adding milestones, achievements, and badges.
“To drive plan adherence and habit formation, customers will receive badges and awards for streaks/achievements/milestones, be able to easily schedule workouts with reminders, make day-of workout modifications based on duration, preference (e.g., cardio instead of strength), or their current energy levels,” Amazon’s internal documentation on Halo Digital reads.
The documents also outline that the company was pushing to greatly expand the selection of premium and Peloton-like interactive fitness classes available to subscribers. The Halo team aimed to release “20 pieces of new content each week” in 2023. Amazon had tapped celebrities to record workout classes at its Seattle-based Halo studio. Competing with meditation apps like Calm was on the agenda, too: Amazon recruited John Stamos and Eva Longoria to record bedtime stories for Halo Digital. This work was largely finished and in the can but has now been completely scrapped.
Looking deeper into the future, the team saw inroads for Halo Digital in the health insurance industry — and potentially as a health and wellness perk for the company’s own workers. “We are exploring Halo as an employee benefit for Amazon, we will engage employers to deliver Donna as a ‘perk’ they can offer to employees,” the documentation says. “As we build evidence of Donna’s impact, we will begin collaboration discussions with health plans and self-insured employers to offer Donna as a covered benefit going into 2024 plan years.”
Intriguingly, Amazon also hoped to broaden the appeal of its Halo software by introducing Apple Watch and HealthKit support, which would have allowed owners of Apple’s smartwatch to partake in the same subscription-based training as Halo device owners — while also filling their rings and hitting the usual Apple activity goals.
There are a lot of unsold Halo devices
Putting aside the daunting competition, the Halo Band and Halo View each came with their own hardware issues that drew customer complaints. In the case of the Band, the plastic covering its sensor array could delaminate from the device. Meanwhile, the Halo View had a tendency to pop off too easily from its band or develop cracks at the point where the tracker and band meet.
Amazon was aware of the latter defect and quietly updated the View’s design to fix it, according to our sources. At times, the company briefly paused marketing Halo to iron out issues, which only stalled momentum further as new competitors arrived.
The Halo Band and View both had review scores averaging just below four stars on Amazon’s website, whereas the company’s more established product lines, like Fire TV and Echo speakers, regularly hover around 4.5 stars.But the mixed reception didn’t stop Amazon from pushing its Halo lineup on shoppers. Customers who asked Alexa fitness-related questions like “what’s a good yoga mat?” would be segmented and targeted with Halo ads. The company has acknowledged it does this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean customers are necessarily aware of it.
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“The amount of data Amazon collected on [Halo] customers is incredible,” one source said. “While we never looked at individual user data, we could see the percent of folks who used each aspect of the product and created cohorts to target based on usage. We also closely tracked competitor sales on Amazon to make product decisions.”
But none of that data was enough to turn things around. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has been aggressive about cutting back from efforts that aren’t reliable money-makers for the company. When even the well-known Alexa and Echo divisions are feeling the effects of Amazon’s cuts and far-reaching layoffs, Halo didn’t stand a chance.
The company now finds itself with an enormous stockpile of unsold Halo products. According to people familiar with the matter, Amazon has a remaining inventory of over 500,000 Halo View and Halo Rise devices. Maybe that explains the recent gym promotions.
Prior to publishing this story, The Verge presented Amazon with several of its key points to allow the company to comment or refute anything that it viewed as inaccurate. “We don’t have anything to share beyond our statement and blog post,” spokesperson Kristy Schmidt wrote by email.
My colleague Victoria Song offered a good explanation for why Halo failed: Amazon was terribly late to the party, and the few standout software features that Halo provided — such as voice tone analysis and 3D modeling of a user’s body — came across as more peculiar than practical.
- Amazon’s Halo body fat percentage calculator outperforms lab devices
Halo’s body fat calculator had its advocates and was scientifically sound, but it also raised body dysmorphia concerns. The “tone” voice analysis, while certainly unique, torpedoed the Halo Band’s battery life. Let’s face it: there’s also the underlying reality that some people are wary about storing their health data with Amazon in the first place.
Above all else, and as the internal email laid bare, Halo was a small fish in a big pond, and Amazon had little chance of breaking through. It seems the company ultimately realized that even Halo Digital wouldn’t be enough to overcome such entrenched competition.
Bottom line. According to a report from The Verge, Amazon shutting down Halo operations led to role reductions at the company. Amazon told employees that the decision to discontinue Halo products stemmed from "an increasingly crowded segment and an uncertain economic environment."What is Amazon Halo? ›
Amazon Halo is a wrist-worn health tracker with an accompanying app that uses health metrics designed to give users a comprehensive look at their health and wellness and to provide actionable recommendations in order to make improvements.How does Amazon Halo count steps? ›
The Amazon Halo app isn't reflecting steps taken, movement, or calories burned. Activities involving lots of arm movements (such as washing dishes or sweeping) may lead to extra steps. Activities with limited arm movement (such as walking with a stroller or walking the dog) may result in lower steps.What can Amazon Halo measure? ›
The Amazon Halo has four main features: the ability to track your activity, sleep, tone of voice, and body fat percentage. I'll go over each of these features briefly now, and in more detail below.How accurate is Amazon Halo? ›
In the results you can see that that Amazon Halo's accuracy was within +/-5% of the Apple Watch. We found similar results on other activities including walks and runs that were over 15 minutes.Can the Amazon Halo be worn in the shower? ›
Learn More About Your Water Resistant Halo device. Your Halo device has a water resistance up to 50m. This means that it may be used for shallow water activities like swimming in a pool or ocean and can be worn in the shower.Does the Amazon Halo track oxygen levels? ›
Halo View estimates oxygen in your blood by observing how your blood reflects red and infrared light. Blood oxygen values and flow will vary naturally. Most people will have values between 95 - 100% while awake, but some people experience values below 95%.How much does Amazon Halo cost per month? ›
Note: Membership is free for 12 months with a Halo View purchase, or free for six months with a Halo Band or Halo Rise purchase. After your free membership period is complete, your Amazon Halo membership auto-renews at $3.99/month plus applicable tax. The fee for your membership may change at any time.What does Halo work? ›
The halo especially works your shoulders, triceps, and upper back and is a great mobility warm up exercise.Does Amazon Halo track blood pressure? ›
Blood pressure estimate isn't available on the Halo View. It can take your pulse, and it can also estimate oxygen in your blood by observing how your blood reflects red and infrared light. But Halo View blood oxygen information isn't intended for medical use, and is only designed for general wellness purposes.
Hundreds of workouts. Explore our ever-growing library of premium workouts and programs from Halo Fitness and partners like Halle Berry's rē•spin, SWEAT, Orangetheory, and more.How accurate is Halo Steps? ›
Step count seems accurate
I tested the halo views step counting reliability by strapping the device onto my wrist counting my steps, then sinking with the app. For the most part, I found the step count to be quite accurate, if a little delayed to update inside the app.
It uses motion sensors to study your movement and breathing patterns to assess your sleep. To wake you up, the device includes a light that can be programmed to gradually get brighter.How does Amazon Halo track body fat? ›
In order to calculate your body fat percentage, the device prompts you to pose for pictures of your front, back, and sides. The Halo app uses those photos—taken with a smartphone camera—to analyze the physical properties of your body, including your body shape and distribution of fat and muscle.Does Amazon Halo have a calorie counter? ›
After completing a workout, you can review a summary of your workout including activity points, calories, steps, and more. You can also view your metrics from the Activity section in the Amazon Halo app. Members have access to enhanced metrics.Why is my halo heart rate not accurate? ›
Your Halo device observes heart rate with an optical sensor on the bottom of the capsule. You may see less accurate data if the device is loose on your wrist. Inaccurate data can also occur if you frequently clutch your fists, or your movement patterns are irregular.Does Amazon Halo track resting heart rate? ›
Start A Live Workout on Halo View. To view additional Halo View Heart Rate data such as your max or resting heart rate: From your Halo View home display, swipe up or down and select Data. Select Heart Rate.Does Amazon Halo track miles walked? ›
For starters, the lack of GPS means Halo Band and Halo View are unable to show a map of your walks, runs, or bike rides. It'll track the calories burned and steps taken (if applicable), but you won't be able to see a map of where you went.How long does the Amazon Halo band last? ›
Battery Life and Halo's Tone
With the Halo band mic muted, you can use the Halo for up to seven days (on average) without a recharge. However, if it's on then that battery life drops to one or two days depending on how much tone analysis you want. If you opt for the less tone setting, your Halo will last two days.
Wear Halo View on your nondominant wrist.
Halo View uses movement information to detect steps and activity. Halo View will still work if worn on either wrist, but using your nondominant wrist can improve accuracy since you perform fewer movements.
From the Halo View home display: Swipe down, then select Settings. Select Vibrate. To adjust vibration strength, select high, medium, or low.Can Amazon Halo show text messages? ›
Halo View syncs with your phone to provide media controls, as well as text and phone call notifications.Can Amazon Halo read text messages? ›
On your mobile phone, open the Amazon Halo app . Select Settings. Select Notifications. Under Productivity, turn "on" Text messages.Why is there a red light on my Amazon Halo? ›
If your Halo is charging successfully, you'll see a red light appear on the side of the device. When the device is fully charged, the light will turn green. If the device, cable, or charging clip appear damaged, discontinue use immediately.Does Halo collar work without subscription? ›
If you want to use the Halo Collar, you need to sign up for a Halo subscription plan, which gives you access to the app, basic training, feedback control, and fence arrangement.Does Amazon Halo require a phone? ›
A: Phone or a tablet is required.Does Amazon Halo need wifi? ›
In the Amazon Halo app, under Settings, the device icon should read Connected. Make sure that your phone is connected to the internet by Wi-Fi or data connection.Does Halo help sagging skin? ›
Sagging skin, fine lines, deep creases, and large pores often accompany aging. A Halo treatment will effectively boost the quality of the skin and help take years off your face! Scarring is just another aesthetic concern that Halo can improve.Does Halo help with wrinkles? ›
Halo laser treatment is also effective for reducing fine lines and wrinkles, in a way that is very different than dermal fillers and wrinkle relaxers. Aside from aging skin, it can also treat issues such as discoloration, uneven skin tone, enlarged pores, sun damage, and scarring.Does Halo build collagen? ›
The Halo Laser is an excellent solution for candidates who want to minimize the appearance of hyperpigmentation, enlarged pores, and wrinkles – all while increasing long-term collagen production.
By using low-energy sensor technology and a sleep tracking algorithm trained and validated against overnight polysomnography, the clinical gold standard for sleep analysis, Halo Rise automatically gives you detailed and accurate sleep information, even if your partner (or pet) gets into bed first.Where do you put Amazon Halo? ›
Where to put your Halo rise to gather the best sleep data. Place the device on your side of the bed on top of a sturdy surface. Make sure the device's metal stand is at the same height or up to 8 inches above your mattress.Does the Amazon Halo view tell time? ›
Like virtually every smartwatch, Halo View also tells time (important!) and has basic functions like alarms, timers, and a stopwatch. Unlike a lot of wearable tech I've tried, however, Amazon's Halo View isn't just the device on your wrist.How successful is Halo? ›
The show helped lead an impressive quarter of growth for the streaming service. Paramount+'s Halo series was a long time coming, but has quickly become a "huge global hit," says CEO Bob Bakish on a Q1 earnings call Tuesday morning.Does Halo track sleep? ›
Good alarm clock, better smart light. Sleep tracking is just one of the things the Halo Rise can do.Is the Halo show faithful? ›
The Halo TV show's interpretation of the Spartan program is equally faithful. Some scenes, such as the Master Chief's childhood interactions with Dr. Halsey and subsequent abduction, play out as if they were lifted straight from the books.What temperature does Halo sleep at? ›
The ideal temperature is between 68° and 72°F (20° to 22.2°C).Can Alexa detect sleep apnea? ›
Amazon is reportedly developing a new Alexa-enabled device capable of tracking your breathing for signs of sleep apnea while you snooze. The device can sit on a nightstand and measure your breathing using a no-contact radar system, sources close to the project told Business Insider.Does the Halo View show messages? ›
Text messages can be displayed on the watch and while the print is very small, it is clear and bright. All Halo View device purchases include a year of access to the Amazon Insights portion of the Halo app. This includes such things as recipes, suggested workouts, sleep tracking, etc.How much does the Halo View weight? ›
The Amazon Halo View is a delightfully lightweight companion. It comes in at around 21g, which is just slightly more than half the weight of an Apple Watch. It's quite slim and doesn't interfere with wrist movements when lifting or rotating your wrists in workouts.
Amazon's own Halo Band is designed for either wrist or ankle use. If you aren't in the market for a knock-off fitness tracker that you can wear on your ankle, you can always purchase a range of ankle bands that are compatible with various smartwatches.What size Amazon Halo do I need? ›
Find your size
To select a size, measure around your wrist using a measuring tape. Or, wrap a piece of string, wire, or strip of paper around your wrist, mark where it overlaps, then measure that length with a ruler. If your wrist is between two band sizes, we recommend getting the larger band size.
A few bites of a light ice cream like Halo Top may help you cut back on higher calorie treats. If you've got a sweet tooth, it may help while trying to shed a few pounds. But don't get too excited about the promises of weight loss when downing pints a day, or even one pint in a sitting.Is Halo Top healthy for weight loss? ›
Is Halo Top actually healthy? Though Halo Top is a low calorie, low sugar alternative to regular ice cream, it's still highly processed and shouldn't be a staple in your daily diet. Instead, enjoy Halo Top in moderation as an occasional treat, similarly to other frozen desserts.Is Halo Halo healthy or unhealthy? ›
Halo-Halo is not healthy due to its high sugar and fat content. A typical serving of halo-halo is around 12 grams of fat, 31 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of protein. This is a poor balance of nutrients and can lead to weight gain if portions are not controlled.Why can't i watch Halo on Amazon? ›
Amazon discontinues Amazon Halo effective July 31.Will Halo be available on Amazon Prime? ›
Watch Halo Season 1 | Prime Video.Is Halo available on Amazon? ›
“We recently made the difficult decision to stop supporting Amazon Halo effective July 31, 2023.How do I fix Amazon Halo view? ›
Force close the Amazon Halo app and then reopen it. If your data still isn't updating, restart Halo View. From your Halo View home display, swipe down and select Settings, then select Restart and confirm. Wait 60 seconds.Why does Halo not work? ›
One of the common reasons for Halo Infinite Multiplayer not loading PC is related to internet connection issues. If you have a weak internet connection, then the game may fail to connect to its servers. Here you can perform a power cycle of your router to troubleshoot the issue. Step 1.
The Halo series is available only on the Paramount+ streaming service so you will need a subscription if you're planning on watching. Luckily, there are tiers available for anyone interested in signing up for their service. They offer monthly subscriptions starting at $4.99 and yearly subscriptions starting at $49.99.Is Halo on Paramount Plus essential plan? ›
We've got you covered. With a Paramount+ subscription, you'll be able to stream Halo and more original series, including Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Mayor of Kingstown, SEAL Team and more. It's quick and easy to sign up for Paramount+!Is Halo going to be on Netflix? ›
Short answer: no. Halo is a Showtime production financed by parent company ViacomCBS, which also happens to own Paramount+. Hence why Halo is very unlikely to find its way onto Netflix anytime soon – if ever.Is Amazon Halo FDA approved? ›
The Halo Band “is not a medical device,” Amazon tells me. As such, it hasn't submitted the device to the FDA for any sort of approval, including the lighter-touch “FDA clearance” that so many other fitness bands have used.Is Halo streaming anywhere? ›
Halo TV Series (Official Site) Watch on Paramount Plus.Is Halo on Netflix or Amazon? ›
"Halo" is streaming exclusively on Paramount+ starting March 24, 2022. Paramount+ has two subscriber tiers available -- the "Essential Plan," an ad-supported tier available at $5/month, and the "Premium Plan," an ad-free option priced at $10/month.How do I activate my halo subscription on Amazon? ›
- Go to Your Memberships & Subscriptions.
- Find your Halo subscription.
- Use the options to manage your Halo subscription.
The Halo app, a compatible mobile device (such as a smartphone), and an Amazon.com account are required to use Halo and the Halo Device.Can you turn off Amazon Halo? ›
To turn off or schedule when you receive Halo View notifications, use Night Mode. Note: When Night Mode is active, notification and raise to wake features are paused. Brightness will decrease to "Low," and can be updated in your Halo View device settings.