- Amazon is diving into the wearables market with its new wristband, Halo.
- But privacy concerns could hinder wide-scale adoption.
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The tech behemoth plunged into the wearables market with a new wristband, dubbed Halo, and an accompanying health tracking app and subscription service that will allow users to track metrics like body fat percentage and sleep temperature, and will gauge users' tone of voice to determine their emotional states.
Amazon claims that its tech will be on par with an in-office clinical evaluation and twice as accurate as at-home methods. The device will also leverage smartphone cameras to produce a 3D model of a user's body to determine the effects gaining or losing body fat could have on physique, according to TechCrunch.
Rolling out a wearable now makes sense considering the pandemic is driving consumers to try new digital health tech for the first time. For example, 60% of US first-time adopters — and notably, 40% of later adopters — reported that the pandemic led them to try new health devices, apps, or services. And the majority of these consumers say they will continue purchasing these devices once outbreaks subside. That means consumers will likely take up wearables like Amazon's now more than ever before, putting it in a prime position to attract new buyers.
Amazon has carved into nearly every pocket of healthcare — from virtual care, prescription delivery, health insurance, and now wearables — and we think it's only a matter of time before it wades into digital therapeutics. The tech titan inched closer to a public launch of its telehealth platform, Amazon Care, when it expanded the service to more employees in May — and hinted that it's placing a greater emphasis on its digital pharmacy when it rolled out free delivery for PillPack members last month.
The launch of a wearable signals that Amazon is casting a wide net in healthcare, disrupting all corners of the ecosystem. And we wouldn't be surprised if the tech giant moved into digital therapeutics (DTx) next: It could supplement its virtual care services with DTx tools to better contend with the newly formed Teladoc-Livongo digital health giant and tap into the massive chronic disease management market. The CDC reports that 60% of US adults manage one or more chronic conditions, which account for 90% of the country's annual healthcare expenditures.
But US consumers are still wary about sharing their health data with the tech giant — and privacy concerns could hamper adoption of Halo. Although the tech titan states that consumers' body scans will be deleted and that it won't share any personally identifiable health data with third-party lab providers without user consent, these practices may not be clear enough to assuage privacy critics who will likely remain apprehensive about passing their health data over to Amazon.
As such, it will likely have to further clarify its data handling practices to boost wide-spread adoption: A pre-pandemic Rock Health report revealed that only 10% of people feel comfortable sharing their health data to tech companies — and only 45% of those would consider Amazon as a worthy recipient.
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