Amazon Halo Wants You to Pose for the Camera—for Health Reasons

Since it was first announced last summer, Amazon’s Halo fitness device has raised some eyebrows over privacy issues. The wearable wanted to monitor activity duration and tone of voice, and now it wants to scan your body to assess your “Movement Health.”

With a forthcoming update, the Halo fitness service will prompt users to use the camera on their smartphone or tablet then take a video of themselves in a variety of poses. Allegedly, Amazon’s cloud-based AI and algorithms will then create a report breaking down the user’s mobility score in terms of percentages (out of 100) and determine a personalized workout routine for them based on that.

Njenga Kariuki, Amazon Halo’s senior technical product manager, said “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.”

There are limitations, though. That algorithm applies the same assessments to every user without consideration of mobility levels or body types. Kariuki stated, “The limitations we look at during the assessment are consistent across all customers,” but assures users that the feature “delivers comparable accuracy to an in-person assessment with a professional trainer.”

As a result, users will receive five to ten corrective exercise videos—ranging from stretches to complete workouts—aimed at improving mobility, posture, and stability. It’s certainly not as robust as other fitness apps and classes, especially since that algorithm applies assessments evenly to everyone, but it might be a good fit for some users.

Amazon also promises that, as with the other data its Halo device can detect, this video footage will be encrypted in transit and only be “viewed” (analyzed) by its algorithms and not any of its employees. Afterward, the data will immediately be deleted from both your phone and its cloud server.

While it feels like Amazon is trying to create a more useful fitness tracking device, there are understandably some issues it’ll need to reckon with. It’s asking a lot of customers to request they shoot and upload videos of themselves to the cloud, even with Amazon’s myriad promises for privacy. To most users, this also likely feels incredibly invasive. And given the generalized approach of applying assessments to every user, many users might not even feel that it’s all worthwhile, especially when there are plenty of better-established dedicated workout apps out there with personal coaches and tons of live and on-demand classes for all skill levels (and no requests for body scan videos).

via The Verge

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