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Amazon launches first fitness band in bid to take on Apple, Fitbit

FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at an Amazon facility in Bethpage on Long Island in New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo)

BY AKANKSHA RANA, MUNSIF VENGATILL AND JEFFREY DASTIN

Amazon.com Inc on Thursday launched its first fitness band and app, Halo, as the e-commerce giant looks to take on Apple, Fitbit and Samsung in an increasingly crowded fitness tracker market.

The Halo band, which does not feature a display screen unlike most of its rivals, is priced at $99.99, while the app membership costs $3.99 per month, Amazon said.

The scope of growth in the fitness band market has prompted tech giants such as Apple Inc and Samsung to introduce many sophisticated features for health tracking, including electrocardiogram and blood pressure sensor.

In comparison, Amazon has featured a relatively new technology in the market called tone analysis, which reviews users’ tone during conversations. When enabled, a microphone on the band listens to detect emotions such as happiness, confusion or affection in the speaker’s tone.

It remains to be seen if consumers would embrace this feature or would it spark privacy concerns. Amazon said the technology was designed in a way that protects privacy.

The company said the water-resistant band, with a battery life of up to 7 days, also contains an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor and can measure body fat percentage.

Alphabet Inc-owned Google is also making strides into the fitness market. Google in November said it would buy Fitbit Inc for $2.1 billion, a deal that is currently under regulatory scrutiny.

The market is also crowded by cheaper offerings from China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and Xiaomi Corp.

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